There’s lots of advice given to women about things they should or shouldn’t do while they are pregnant.
A lot of advice is about what pregnant women should and shouldn’t eat.
Common sense tells us a healthy diet is best for us and for our growing babies.
But what about pregnancy cravings?
Is it ok to succumb to temptation?
Knowing what you can and can’t eat can be tricky when there’s so much conflicting information about food safety.
Lots of pregnant women want to know this: ‘Is McDonald’s safe to eat while pregnant?’
Pregnancy and food safety
It’s especially important to listen to advice from your doctor about foods you should avoid eating when you are pregnant.
This is because certain foods have a higher risk of contamination with bacteria that are potentially harmful to your unborn baby.
You’ve probably heard of the risks of listeria during pregnancy.
Listeria is a bacterium that can grow and survive on certain types of food. Eating contaminated food can cause a serious illness called listeriosis in humans.
Pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract the condition and can pass the infection to their unborn babies through the placenta.
Listeriosis can result in miscarriage or stillbirth. Although serious, it is treatable and preventable.
If the infection is detected early enough, both the pregnant mother and her unborn baby can be treated with antibiotics.
It is much safer to avoid listeriosis than to contract and treat the condition.
Read more here in Listeria and Pregnancy – What You Need To Know About Listeria.
What foods are high risk for listeria?
There are certain foods that are high risk for listeria, and should be avoided for the entire duration of your pregnancy.
These foods include:
- Cold deli meats
- Cold cooked chicken
- Pates and meat spreads
- Smoked meats (such as salmon)
- Unpasteurised dairy products (such as soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk and ice-cream)
- Prepared salads
- Unwashed fruit and vegetables.
Listeria can remain for several days on food products so when asking yourself ‘Is McDonald’s safe to eat while pregnant?’ it’s important to consider these high risks foods.
Can you eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger when pregnant?
A McDonald’s cheeseburger does not contain ingredients that are considered unsafe to eat during pregnancy.
McDonald’s uses processed cheese in cheeseburgers and the meat is thoroughly grilled at a high temperature.
It’s best to ask the staff to prepare a fresh burger for you. This ensures all the ingredients are at the highest possible temperature and carry the least risk for contamination.
Can you eat a BigMac when pregnant?
The sauce used in a McDonald’s BigMac is pasteurised and considered safe to eat while you are pregnant.
Again, ask the staff to prepare a fresh burger for you.
When buying a BigMac, it’s also a good idea to ask staff to leave off the lettuce, as pre-prepared salad items carry a risk for listeria contamination.
Can you eat McDonald’s fries when pregnant?
There are no ingredients in McDonald’s fries considered unsafe to eat during pregnancy.
For a healthier option, though, you could ask for them to be cooked fresh, and with less salt.
Can you have a McDonald’s milkshake when pregnant?
McDonald’s shakes are prepared with pasteurised milk products, so the ingredients themselves don’t carry a risk of listeria contamination.
The concern with McDonald’s shakes is in the preparation.
The cold mixing machine used to prepare a shake would need to be completely emptied and thoroughly cleaned regularly, to ensure there’s no chance of listeria surviving or multiplying in the machine.
Fast food chains usually have strict hygiene measures when it comes to food preparation.
To be safe rather than sorry, it’s better to avoid shakes while you’re pregnant.
Can you eat a McDonald’s McFlurry or sundae when pregnant?
Like shakes, McDonald’s ice cream sundaes and McFlurries are made with pasteurised milk products.
Once again, the main concern is in the preparation. That’s why you’ve probably heard it’s unsafe for pregnant women to eat soft-serve ice cream.
As in the preparation of shakes, a cold mixing machine is also used to make McDonald’s sundaes and McFlurries.
To avoid any risk in consuming these products, you need to be certain the cleaning and hygiene practices around these machines are outstanding.
Why salad isn’t always a healthier option
McDonald’s now offers healthier options on the menu.
These come in the form of wraps, salads and fruit packs. It seems obvious these foods are healthier options than burgers and fries.
However, this isn’t always the case when eating out.
The risk of listeria contamination in pre-cut fruit and salad items is actually quite high, due to the handling and storage processes.
Although fruit and veggies are excellent food choices for pregnant women when eating at home, it’s safer to opt for cooked foods when eating out.
Always make sure cooked foods are freshly cooked, and haven’t been sitting in a food warmer before being served to you.
Is it bad to eat fast food while pregnant?
Fast food usually contains large amounts of sugar, salt, fat, additives and preservatives.
These ingredients aren’t ideal for a healthy diet, especially while you’re pregnant.
Although fast food certainly shouldn’t be part of a staple diet in pregnancy, nobody follows a perfect diet 100% of the time.
Apart from pregnancy cravings, you might want to eat McDonald’s for convenience.
Whether it’s at a child’s birthday party, or on a long road trip with limited food options, it’s ok to eat fast food occasionally.
Just be sure to check it’ has been prepared fresh and doesn’t contain any of the high-risk food categories.
What happens if you eat fast food every day while pregnant?
The problem with fast food is that it contains large amounts of sugar, salt and fat.
If you regularly fill up on fast foods, you’ll have fewer opportunities to eat nutritious foods.
During pregnancy, a diet that contains nutritious foods is important for your growing baby.
The nutrients in food help your baby’s brain, organs, bones and immune system develop properly.
Eating fast food all time isn’t only bad for your growing baby but affects you as well.
A poor diet during pregnancy makes you more likely to experience:
- Low energy
- Digestive problems
- Excessive weight gain
- Gestational diabetes.
Is McDonald’s safe to eat while pregnant – the final verdict
So, the answer to the popular question: ‘Is McDonald’s safe to eat while pregnant?’ is YES!
- Ask that your meal be cooked fresh, and avoid raw salad items
- Use your best judgement when deciding whether a shake, a sundae or a McFlurry is worth the risk
- Enjoy McDonald’s occasionally, and then go back to healthy eating for your next meal.