Smoked Salmon In Pregnancy: Is It Safe, Types And Risks

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Many women may consider eating smoked salmon in pregnancy due to the various health benefits attributed to the fish. Salmon contains several healthy fats, helping healthy fetal brain development while also benefiting maternal health. Nevertheless, it is essential to observe some safety precautions to avoid eating fish contaminated with germs or other contaminants, such as mercury, which can harm the fetus.

Read this post to know the various benefits and risks of eating salmon during pregnancy.

Is It Safe To Eat Smoked Salmon In Pregnancy?

Smoked salmon is safe for consumption if it is part of a cooked dish and is stored well. For example, canned or shelf-safe smoked salmon are usually safe for consumption. Its safety also depends on the smoking style used to process the salmon. For example, salmon labeled as lox, nova style, or jerky should be avoided unless part of a cooked meal (1).

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Smoked Salmon?

The nutritional value of 100g of smoked salmon is as follows:

NutrientAmount
Calories250kcal
Protein23.21g
Total fat12.5g
Sodium1214mg
Saturated fatty acids1.79g
Total monounsaturated fatty acids5.36g
Total polyunsaturated fatty acids1.79g
Cholesterol54mg

Source: Smoked Salmon: FoodData Central; U.S. Department of Agriculture

Salmon is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). It is also low in saturated fats, making it a healthy fat source that assists in fetal brain development (2).

Which Types Of Smoked Salmon Are Safe In Pregnancy?

The following types of smoked salmon pose a low risk of infection and can be consumed during pregnancy:

  • Hot-smoked salmon

It has a smoky flavor and is completely cooked and cured at temperatures as high as 82°C (179.6°F). It is safe for consumption if used in a dish that has been heated to an internal temperature of 165°F (73°C). However, avoid eating refrigerated or pre-frozen hot-smoked salmon as it may harbor Listeria (3) (4) (5).

  • Canned, tinned, or shelf-stable smoked salmon

They are safe for consumption in a cooked dish where the internal temperatures are 165°F (73°C) (6).

Shelf-stable smoked salmon is vacuum packed and available in non-refrigerated aisles. However, as they should be refrigerated once opened, avoid consuming after unsealing the pack.

Which Types Of Smoked Salmon Are Unsafe For Pregnant Women?

As parasites could grow in undercooked smoked salmon, it is best avoided during pregnancy. Also, avoid fish products that pose a higher risk of contamination, such as

  • Cold-smoked salmon

As per its name, this type of salmon is cured at below 30°C (86°F) to ensure good muscle texture. Since cold-smoked fish is uncooked, it offers a natural breeding ground for Listeria (3) (7). Cold salmon may also be marketed in other names, so ensure you check the labels.

  • Products containing smoked salmon

Pre-processed food products, such as smoked salmonpâté and spreads or salmon-flavored cream cheese or dips, may pose a threat of contamination. As the cure type or processing method used is unknown, they are best avoided during pregnancy. These salmon products may also contain unpasteurized milk—another reason to avoid them (6).

  • Smoked salmon sushi

Salmon sushi is mostly made of raw fish. A study on Listeria in salmon sushi showed an exponential increase in their count over three days. Hence, avoid salmon sushi, especially if raw, during pregnancy. However, you may consider eating cooked salmon sushi (8).

How Much Smoked Salmon Is Safe To Eat When Pregnant?

Though salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, smoked salmon has a high salt content. Furthermore, seafood may contain high levels of mercury, which may affect a developing fetus’s nervous system. Considering the above factors, you may consume up to two portions of smoked salmon per week (9).

What Are The Potential Risks Of Eating Smoked Salmon While Pregnant?

Both hot-smoked and cold-smoked salmon pose risks. The following are the potential side-effects of eating smoked salmon during pregnancy:

  • High risk of listeriosis

Cold-smoked salmon and deli meat may harbor Listeria monocytogenes, a germ that causes foodborne illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, listeriosis may affect the fetus and result in premature birth, stillbirth, or miscarriages.

It easily affects those with compromised immune systems; hence, pregnant women are ten times more likely to be infected. (10) (11).

  • Parasitic worms

Salmon could be a breeding ground for tapeworms, and the consumption of raw salmon increases the risk of parasitic infections. When consumed, fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium latum) may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and anemia (12).

  • High in sodium

Hot or cold, smoked salmon is initially cured in salt. 100g of smoked salmon contains around 1214mg of sodium, nearly 40% of the recommended daily sodium intake (3000mg). Excessive salt intake during pregnancy could affect the newborn’s renal function (13) (14) (15).

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I eat pink salmon while pregnant?

Yes, all varieties of salmon, including pink salmon, are considered safe to consume during pregnancy (16). The American Pregnancy Association suggests a healthy pink salmon croquettes recipe for pregnant women (17).

2. Is smoked salmon healthier than cooked salmon in pregnancy?

You may consume both cooked and smoked salmon during pregnancy. Raw seafood should be cooked to 145°F to prevent infections such as listeria. Smoked salmon can be consumed when it is canned, shelf-stable, or is an ingredient of a well-cooked dish. Refrigerated smoked salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F to kill harmful germs (6).

The consumption of smoked salmon in pregnancy comes with associated risks. Hence, if you choose to consume it, ensure it is completely cooked, hot-smoked, and stored properly to avoid the risk of contamination. However, if you skip it, ensure you consume adequate amounts of other safe sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as mercury-free fish oil supplements.

Key Pointers

  • Pregnant women can safely consume thoroughly cooked smoked salmon within the recommended amount.
  • It is a great source of omega-3, protein, and other essential nutrition for a healthy diet and babies’ brain development.
  • Not all types of smoked salmon can be consumed during pregnancy.

References:

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.
  1. Foods To Avoid When Pregnant.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy/pregnancy-health-wellness/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/
  2. Fish Intake During Pregnancy And Foetal Neurodevelopment—A Systematic Review Of The Evidence.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4377896/
  3. Smoked Fish.
    https://seafood.oregonstate.edu/sites/agscid7/files/snic/smoked-fish-part-iii-virginia-tech.pdf
  4. Foods To Avoid When Pregnant.
    https://www.pregnancybirthbaby.org.au/foods-to-avoid-when-pregnant
  5. Commercial Processing Example: Hot Smoked Salmon Fillets (farm-raised), ReducedOxygen Packed, Refrigerated.
    https://www.flseagrant.org/wp-content/uploads/Hot-Smoked-Salmon-ROP-September-2020-1.pdf
  6. People At Risk: Pregnant Women.
    https://www.foodsafety.gov/people-at-risk/pregnant-women
  7. Food Safety Focus.
    https://www.cfs.gov.hk/english/multimedia/multimedia_pub/multimedia_pub_fsf_106_01.html
  8. Growth Potential Of Listeria monocytogenes In Three Different Salmon Products.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7466188/
  9. Fish In Pregnancy.
    https://www.aptaclub.co.uk/pregnancy/diet-and-nutrition/understanding-food-groups/can-you-eat-fish.html
  10. Listeriosis During Pregnancy.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28536811/
  11. People At Risk – Pregnant Women And Newborns.
    https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/risk-groups/pregnant-women.html
  12. Fish Tapeworm Infections.
    https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001375.htm
  13. Smoked Salmon.
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/358585/nutrients
  14. Eating Right Before And During Pregnancy.
    https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/eating-right-before-and-during-pregnancy#:~:text=Sodium%20intake%20recommendations%20both%20before
  15. High-Salt Diets During Pregnancy Affected Fetal And Offspring Renal Renin–Angiotensin System.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4406098/
  16. Advice about Eating Fish.
    https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish
  17. Nutritious Salmon Patties.
    https://americanpregnancy.org/healthy-pregnancy-recipes/pregnant-moms-and-babies-get-super-nutrition-from-these-salmon-patties/
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Sindusha MS

Sindusha is a clinical nutritionist with over two years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She did her Masters in Food Science and Nutrition from Avinashilingam Institute for Home Science and Higher Education for Women and has qualified UGC-NET. She interned as a quality control analyst and as a dietitian during her graduation. She was a part of several... more

Jenny Champion

(MS, RD, CPT)
Jenny is a registered dietitian, personal trainer and mother of three who is passionate about teaching women how to stop yoyo dieting, have healthy pregnancies and get back in shape after childbirth. After suffering from eating disorders and weight problems herself, she’s helped over 1,000 women change their lives by eating more of the right foods and less of the... more