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Pregnant and BBQ

  1. There is often plenty of barbecuing on hot summer days. Barbecuing often takes place with a group, guests are invited and a pleasant event is made of it. It is certainly not fun to cancel an invitation to a barbecue because you are pregnant. This is also not necessary if you barbecue sensibly. While you may not always be in control when the meat is cooked in front of you, there are a few tips that can help with a responsible and safe barbecue.


  1. At barbecue, the meat is grilled on a grid. This method of preparation is used by many people in the summer. Charcoal barbecues, gas barbecues, electric barbecues and pallet barbecues exist today. There are also different techniques for barbecuing. For example, the meat can be cooked directly over the fire, or indirectly with a closed lid, whereby the temperature can be regulated by means of ventilation holes. The choice of the type of barbecue and the barbecue technique partly determines the safety of barbecuing during pregnancy.

Risks during pregnancy

  1. The biggest risks of barbecuing for pregnant women are bacteria or parasites and PAHs. When barbecuing, it is more likely that the meat is burnt on the outside, while it is not yet cooked properly on the inside. Burnt meat contains harmful substances, which is undesirable for both pregnant and non-pregnant women. In addition, eating raw meat during pregnancy is dangerous because there is a risk that it contains harmful bacteria or parasites. For pregnant women, Toxoplasma and Listeria are especially harmful, because they can endanger the health of the unborn child.


  1. Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite can occur in raw meat or meat that is undercooked. But products that are contaminated with animal feces, such as vegetables and fruit, can also be contaminated with Toxoplasma. Healthy people notice little of a toxoplasmosis infection. In contrast, an infection can have serious consequences for pregnant women. This is because the parasite can infect the unborn baby through the placenta. This can lead to miscarriage in early pregnancy while there is a risk of birth defects later in pregnancy. For example, children or adults who have been infected during their mother's pregnancy can suffer from eye disorders. Pregnant women can also be immune to toxoplasmosis. This is usually the case if you have been in contact with an infection of the parasite before. If a pregnant woman is immune, the risk of infecting the unborn child is very small. You can have your immune system tested, but this is not done by default in the Netherlands.

Prevent toxoplasmosis

  1. It is important for pregnant women to prevent infection. Therefore, make sure that all the meat that is eaten is well heated and completely cooked inside. Vegetables and fruits must be washed well or also heated. With a barbecue, leave everything on the barbecue long enough so that it is cooked properly, but make sure it does not burn. Cross-contamination with raw meat must be avoided. Use different tools for raw meat and cooked meat. Also, do not put cooked meat on the same plate that the raw meat was on.


  1. Meat that has not been properly heated can contain dangerous bacteria. During pregnancy you have a reduced resistance, which means that you can contract an infection more quickly. The symptoms can also be more severe when you contract an infection. It is therefore of extra importance to watch your diet during pregnancy. Therefore, make sure that the meat is well cooked, but also make sure that you do not eat, for example, Russian salads that have been exposed to the sun for too long.


  1. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, also abbreviated to PAHs, are carcinogenic substances that are created by incomplete combustion or carbonization of, for example, foods or charcoal. When preparing food on the barbecue PAHs can be formed if, for example, meat is fried too hard and burned. But they also arise when fat drips from the meat and ends up directly on the heat source. This fat burns, creating PAHs that end up on the meat. Finally, PAHs are created when charcoal is burned. Taking PAHs is no more dangerous for pregnant women than for non-pregnant women. However, since it increases the risk of cancer, it is wise to avoid burnt meat or dripping fat on the barbecue as much as possible.

Prevention of PAHs

  1. The formation of PAHs can be prevented by ensuring that the meat does not burn. Using indirect barbecue techniques that use the lid, the meat cooks gradually and does not burn as quickly. Also when using electric barbecues and pellet barbecues, the direct heat is less, so that the meat burns less quickly. If you do use a charcoal barbecue, make sure the coals are completely gray and have a container on top of the coals for dripping grease.

Barbecue tips

  1. In addition to the tips for preventing PAHs, there are more tips for pregnant women for a healthy and safe barbecue.

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