Is It Safe To Eat Pancetta During Pregnancy?

check_icon Research-backed

Image: iStock


Pancetta is an Italian meat cut made of pork belly. This seasoned and salt-cured meat is used in several soups and pasta. If you have enjoyed eating this cut in the past and are currently skeptical since conception, here’s more on pancetta during pregnancy. The meat cut is rich in fat and proteins. However, since it is a cured and thinly sliced meat, most people consume it raw. But during pregnancy, consuming such raw meats could increase Listeriosis risk. Hence, in this post, we help you weigh the pros and cons of eating pancetta so that you can make an informed decision to enjoy a safe and healthy pregnancy.

What Is Pancetta?

Pancetta is popular Italian bacon that you prepare using pork belly meat. The meat is salt-cured and spiced with black pepper and other delicious spices. Pancetta is available as a slab or a roll of thin slices with a strong flavor of pork. Pancetta is highly beneficial and nutritious food to consume during pregnancy. However, many moms have questions and doubts about eating pork during pregnancy. Are these mere rumor mongers or genuine concerns? So, let’s have a look at health benefits and how safe it is to consume pancetta in pregnancy (1).

Health Benefits Of Pancetta During Pregnancy

1. Calorie-Rich:

Just one serving of Italian pancetta offers about 212 calories. The meat provides you 10.5% of daily intake of calories, which is 2,000 calories. So you can have an appropriate amount of calories to regulate weight gain, have a nutritious diet, and stay healthy while expecting (2).

2. Offers Proteins:

You need proteins to have during pregnancy for good cell growth and cell and tissue repair. Also, proteins are essential for good growth and development of the fetus. Pancetta contains a high amount of proteins. One serving of the meat provides you with 1.5 to 2 grams of proteins. So consuming pancetta during pregnancy helps you fulfill your protein intake and meet your nutritional needs while you satisfy your craving for pancetta (3).

3. Ensures Good Fat Intake:

Pork meat provides a rich amount of fats that are necessary for your health. Just one serving of pancetta offers 22.5 grams of fats, of which 10.5 grams are monounsaturated fats, 2.5 grams are polyunsaturated fats, and 8 grams are saturated fats. Consuming one serving of pancetta helps you get more than 51% of your recommended daily intake of fat during pregnancy. So eating two servings of pancetta can help you meet an average daily recommended intake of fats while expecting. However, it is advisable to eat pancetta in moderation to prevent overload or excess weight gain during pregnancy (4).

Can You Eat Pancetta When Pregnant?

Yes, pregnant females can enjoy eating pancetta or Italian bacon only if you cook the meat fully before eating. Make sure that you cook pork to at least 160°F. You need to make sure that you cook the pork at high temperature; it does not contain any nitrites and nitrates. Cooking at high temperature eliminates the risk of the presence of harmful bacteria in the prepared pancetta. Avoid eating any raw or undercooked pancetta since it is more prone to contain harmful bacteria and microbes. It is advisable to cook the pork until it turns crispy and red in color. Also, examine it for spots where it is left raw all the way (5).

Pancetta is rich in saturated fat. Therefore, keep its intake limited since excess fat intake may lead to unwanted weight gain, which increases the risk of other complications. Consult your doctor before eating pancetta during pregnancy. The doctor will suggest the appropriate amount of meat that you can enjoy while expecting and prevent you from consuming an excess quantity that may prove harmful to you and your unborn baby.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is pancetta healthier than bacon?

Yes. Pancetta and bacon are both made from pork belly, but pancetta contains less fat than bacon and is not smoked. Furthermore, unlike bacon, pancetta is only cured with no added flavoring agents or sugars, making it safer and healthier to consume (2).

2. Is pancetta the same as prosciutto?

No. Pancetta and prosciutto are different traditional Italian cured pork products. Pancetta is made from cured pork belly, whereas prosciutto is made from pork legs (3).

3. How do you know pancetta is cooked?

If the pancetta has turned brown and crisp on both sides after 10 minutes of being placed in an unheated pan over medium-low to medium heat, it is cooked and ready to eat.

Pancetta is a form of salt-cured meat rich in vital nutrients, such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Pregnant women can safely consume well-cooked pancetta in moderation as a part of a well-balanced pregnancy diet. However, one should avoid eating raw or undercooked pancetta as it could contain harmful bacteria like Listeria, which could adversely affect your and your baby’s health. Speak to your doctor before adding pancetta to your pregnancy diet. The doctor can tell you the appropriate quantity of pancetta expecting mothers can safely eat to enjoy its benefits.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
Was this information helpful?
The following two tabs change content below.

Ria Saha

Ria is a techie-turned-writer and writes articles on health, with special emphasis on nutrition. She did her B.Tech from West Bengal University of Technology and was previously associated with IBM as SAP ABAP technical consultant. She moved into freelance content writing in 2013 and worked for various websites including MomJunction, Brainpulse Technologies, and Emarketz India.

Jyoti Benjamin

Jyoti Benjamin has 25 years of experience as a clinical dietitian and currently works in Seattle. She focuses on teaching people the value of good nutrition and helping them lead healthy lives by natural means. Benjamin has a masters in Foods and Nutrition, and has been a longtime member and Fellow of AND (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) and the... more