There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about what is and is not safe to eat during pregnancy. Some of these beliefs do have a reasonable basis, while others are completely unfounded. A common question during pregnancy is whether or not it is safe for expectant mothers to eat deviled eggs.
Hard Boiled Eggs are a Great Source of Choline, but Reasonable Concerns about Food Prep and Storage Remain
Concerns about the safety of eating deviled eggs during pregnancy do have some basis in fact, but not because there is anything inherently bad or unsafe about eggs in and of themselves. In fact, hard boiled eggs naturally contain high concentrations of a substance called choline, which has been shown to be beneficial in supporting the growth of the brain and nervous system. This does not mean that all deviled eggs are safe to eat during pregnancy, as safety concerns come down to proper food preparation, handling and storage methods.
The Importance of Pasteurization in Food Preparation
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different variations on the standard recipe for deviled eggs. At its most basic level, a standard recipe for deviled eggs generally involves slicing hard boiled eggs in half, removing and then mashing the solid yolk, and then mixing the mashed yolk with a mixture of mayonnaise, some finely diced pickles and onions, and a dash of salt and pepper. The solid egg white halves are then filled with this mixture and chilled in the refrigerator before serving.
Since nearly every recipe for deviled eggs involves mayonnaise or another similar salad spread or dressing, there is a risk of salmonella if the mayonnaise that is used in the recipe is homemade, or made in a deli, using raw eggs. If the deviled eggs are made with a store bought, pre-packaged mayonnaise, like the ones found in the grocery store aisle, then the risk of salmonella poisoning is eliminated, because pasteurized mayonnaise has been treated with high heat temperatures and pressure during the manufacturing process, so any toxins or bacteria would be killed during this process.
The Importance of Proper Food Handling and Storage
Just because you’ve used mayonnaise that you bought off the shelf at the supermarket doesn’t mean that all deviled eggs are necessarily safe to eat. Proper food handling and storage is the key to being able to enjoy deviled eggs when pregnant.
When making deviled eggs at home, promptly refrigerate them, and take them out only right before you will serve them. To help reduce the risk of pathogens and bacteria growing in them, place the serving tray that contains the deviled eggs on top of ice, and keep the tray and eggs covered. Promptly store any leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours of first serving them. If the eggs have been left out for longer than this, even if they have been placed on top of ice, go on ahead and throw them out, just to be on the safe side.
Avoid Deli Prepared Deviled Eggs and Salads During Pregnancy
Pregnant women, as well as those with compromised immune systems, should avoid deli-prepared deviled eggs, as well as any other deli prepared salads, such as potato salad, egg salad or macaroni salad since they may contain mayonnaise or other salad spreads, and there really is not a way to be certain that these items have been prepared, handled and stored properly.
Pregnant women can safely eat deviled eggs when they are made with pasteurized mayonnaise and handled and stored properly. If there is any question at all as to how the deviled eggs were prepared, handled or stored, expectant mothers should skip these treats for safer choices.