Can You Eat Deer Meat While Pregnant? [Precautions And Alternatives]

Congratulations.  You have just found out that you are expecting or know something that has just found out that she is pregnant.  This is an amazing milestone and there are going to be so many great memories made along this journey. 

After the shock and amazement wears off, it is time to start thinking about the decisions that come with being pregnant.  If you are a first time mom, then your mind may already be racing with a multitude of questions. 

If this is not your first pregnancy, or if it has been a little while since you were pregnant last, then you may want to verify that the recommendations that you received previously are still up to date. 

Everyone always says, once you are pregnant you are no longer eating for just one person, but not eating for two.  This statement can be misleading, because during pregnancy you do not want to eat twice as much. 

However, you do want to make sure that you are eating twice as healthy or even replacing some of those not so healthy food choices with foods that are more rich in nutrients.  

It can be quite overwhelming during this time of the pregnancy to understand what foods are the best to consume, and which ones should be avoided completely.  The FDA, USDA and EPA along with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology have recommendations to how you can maintain health and consume the appropriate nutrients required for your baby to grow and develop at the expected rate.

Can I eat deer meat while I am pregnant?  This question is very common, as deer meat is not something that is commonly sold in the supermarkets. 

While you are pregnant you may have genuine questions as to whether consuming deer meat is safe for you and your growing baby.  Let’s jump right in and discuss if deer meat is safe to consume during pregnancy.

Can You Eat Deer Meat While Pregnant?

Deer meat is also known as Venison.  There have been many questions by pregnant women regarding the safety of consuming deer meat while pregnant.  

Generally speaking, you can eat venison when pregnant, but with some modifications.  Deer meat is the same as any other type of meat that you eat during pregnancy.  You may consume deer meat during pregnancy as long it is cooked well done and does not pose any threat of being undercooked. 

You must cook the deer meat to an internal temperature of 160 – 165 degrees depending on the type of meat and current recommendations to ensure that the deer meat is cooked completely. 

By cooking the meat completely, you are eliminating the risk of food-borne bacteria transmission.  Deer meat has an increased risk of transmitted Toxoplasmosis which can cause devastating effects on the fetus. 

So, it is quite important to ensure that the deer meat is cooked to the recommended internal temperature.  If you hunt the deer yourself, it is imperative that you do not use a lead pellet to kill the deer.  If a lead pellet was used to kill the dear then it is not safe to consume.  It is also recommended to refrain from consuming cured deer meat.

It is imperative that when you find out you are pregnant to begin to monitor the types of foods you consume.  If you are eating meat of any variety it is essential that it is completely cooked through to the recommended internal temperature. 

Eating raw or undercooked meat can transmit food borne bacteria and parasites that may result in devastating infections.  These infections can cause symptoms within you that include:  nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. 

These symptoms result in dehydration.  Dehydration can be deadly to the baby.  Dehydration may result in preterm uterine contractions which can cause stillbirth, miscarriage and/or preterm delivery.  

The food borne bacteria and parasites that can be transmitted via the raw and undercooked meat include:  Toxoplasmosis and Salmonella.  These bacteria and parasitic infections can cause devastating effects on the baby.  

There are many different foods that can contain deer meat; therefore, it is important to speak with your doctor to find out if the specific method in which the deer is stored and cooked is acceptable. 

We want to make sure that there has been no cross contamination or compromise in food safety.  The USDA indicates that cured meats should be avoided during pregnancy because they may contain bacteria such as E. Coli. 

During pregnancy, it is imperative that if you do consume deer meat (or any meat for that matter), that you stick to those meats that are heat treated and cooked to a specific recommended internal temperature.  

Deer meat is one of the meats that has an increased risk of contamination with toxoplasmosis.  Toxoplasma gondii can be transmitted via undercooked or raw meat such as deer.  It presents in the pregnant mother as flu-like symptoms, but may also be asymptomatic. 

This parasite can be transmitted from mother to baby and result in devastating effects for the baby.  The baby may experience seizures, infections of the eye that are severe; enlarged spleen and/or liver and jaundice.  Other signs include:  hearing loss and mental disability. 

Because deer has an increased risk of contamination with this parasite, it may be a good idea while you are pregnant to avoid this type of meat altogether.  

However, if you are going to consume deer meat regardless of the recommendation; then it is essential that you make sure that the meat is cooked completely to the recommended internal temperature to ensure that if there was bacteria and/or parasites remaining within the meat that they are killed during the heat process.

Another safety concern with deer meat is what type of pellet that was used to kill the animal.  If the pellet was made from lead, then the deer meat is not safe to eat while pregnant.  

If you have questions regarding if your specific type of deer meat is safe to consume; please contact your physician and ask directly. 

Alternatives to Deer Meat

While Deer Meat does provide a source of protein for you and the baby, there may be better alternatives to ensure safety in your nutrition.  Protein is essential for the development of the babies muscles and tissues.  Therefore, as a pregnant mother you must consume protein. 

Protein can be in the form of beef, pork, poultry and fish.  There are certain types of fish that are considered the best choices.  Those fish are ones that are low in mercury. 

For specific recommendations on what fish are safe to consume during pregnancy and in what quantity, visit the FDA and EPA websites.  The FDA has developed regulations and recommendations for what nutrition is safe to consume during pregnancy. 

The major requirement when consuming any type of meat is to make sure that it is completely well done.  Each meat has a specific internal temperature recommendation to ensure that the bacteria is cooked out of it prior to it being eaten.  

The internal temperature of ground meat and meat mixtures, including beef, pork, veal and lamb should be at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.  Turkey and Chicken ground meat and meat mixtures should have an internal temperature that reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Fresh beef, veal or lamb cooked as steaks, roasts or chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit.  Poultry, including Chicken, Turkey, Duck and Goose should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. 

By cooking the meat to an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit depending on the type of meat, it will help to kill the bacteria within the meat.  This will help to prevent spread of food borne illness that can cause serious effects in pregnant women.Can You Eat Deer Meat While Pregnant?

Alternatives to Deer Meat While Pregnant

Fish  Goose
Beef  Lamb 
Chicken Veal 
Turkey Pork 

Final Verdict

Being pregnant is an exciting time in your life.  There is so much information that is available in today’s society that it can be overwhelming to know which recommendations to follow.  There are several general guidelines that should be followed when determining what types of foods are safe to consume during pregnancy. 

Remember to eat only fully cooked meat.  Do not eat any raw or undercooked meat as it has the potential to be contaminated with bacteria and parasites that may result in severe, devastating effects for the baby. 

There are guidelines that the FDA, EPA and USDA have developed to help expectant mothers understand which foods are safe during pregnancy and which foods should be avoided during pregnancy.  Do not be afraid to reach out to your physician during your pregnancy to ask specific questions regarding food safety. 

Maintaining your health is imperative to maintaining the babies health.  Congratulations.  Remember this experience, it will be an amazing one.

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