Can I Eat Korean BBQ During Pregnancy? Is it Safe?

Korean barbeque is awesome, bringing loads of grilled meats and side dishes to the table. It’s great for people who want to treat themselves, but is it safe for you to eat Korean BBQ while pregnant? 

You’re more than welcome to eat some Korean BBQ during pregnancy, but it’s important that you properly cook all the meat being served. Minimize the risk of cross-contamination by designating plates and tongs to only handle raw or cooked meats – never both.

Most of the meat you’re grilling is also on the fatty side, so don’t overdo it. Some side dishes– most notably Kimchi – are also high in sodium, which can potentially cause blood pressure spikes. That said, pregnant women can safely have Korean BBQ in modest servings.

Once you stop thinking about the fancy side dishes, Korean BBQ is just simmering different cuts of rich, fatty meat on a grill. Most of the risk evaporates once you’re sure all your meat has been cooked properly. From there, it’s just a matter of portion control, mindfulness, and discipline.

Can I Eat Korean BBQ While Pregnant?

Make sure to Cook Thoroughly

beef on a grill

Undercooked meat is always a problem, as it can carry a lot of dangerous bacteria. Most “raw” products (even vegetables!) may transmit E. coli or Salmonella, which are not only unpleasant for moms but dangerous to the infant’s health.

That’s a known risk for a lot of food, but Korean BBQ also has another factor that exacerbates this issue – most of their meat will come from livestock animals.

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That may seem like a good thing, but livestock animals are usually given a plethora of antibiotics to help immunize them against common illnesses. When these antibiotics don’t fully take, the results can be terrifying.

Contaminated meat, in these cases, may end up harboring antibiotic-resistant bacteria. An infection is already bad for pregnant women, but this hampers the treatment process and may cause serious complications in this delicate situation.

While women can usually eat Korean BBQ while pregnant, we cannot stress how important it is to ensure that all the meat served is cooked thoroughly!

Temperature Thresholds

You want to ensure that your meat is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). This applies to most red meat like beef, pork, and even lamb. Chicken, on the other hand, requires a higher temperature of 165°F (74°C).

That said, you won’t be able to bring a meat thermometer to a Korean BBQ place! Even if you could, meat thermometers aren’t designed to be used that way.

The best way to be sure is to cook each side for at least 2-3 minutes each. You’ll pick up a knack for telling when the meat is done, but until then there’s no other way beyond following guidelines. You have a little more leeway while cooking beef and pork, but remember that chicken should never be served rare!

Be Mindful of Cross-Contamination

hand picking beef on a grill

Moving cooked meat with the same tongs you used for raw cuts – or vice versa – is a recipe for food poisoning! The same principle applies to plates and other utensils. Eating Korean BBQ while pregnant is usually safe, but you have to pay attention to potential cross-contamination risks.

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As much as possible, you also want to use batches of the same kind/cut of meat. This lets you standardize the cooking time rather than having to separately track what’s cooked and what isn’t. This is especially important when cooking chicken – as not only is the cooking time significantly different from other meats, but your margin for error here is far stricter.

Korean BBQ is safe, but not Healthy – especially in big portions!

korean bbq

Even if those cooking risks are negated, you’re still eating a ton of fatty, high-sodium meat by the platter! While it’s safe to eat Korean BBQ when pregnant, you don’t want to overindulge here.

You might feel pressured to eat your fill thanks to the buffet style of the restaurant, but remember that you’re here to enjoy your meal – not to lose yourself to it!

Too much fatty meat can give you heartburn and indigestion, which is awful to experience while pregnant. This even extends to the side dishes available, like Kimchi. Overdoing it here would put your blood pressure through the roof and put your infant at serious risk of health complications.

Additionally, the Kimchi they use may not have been pasteurized – it may even harbor some problematic and dangerous bacteria like the E. coli and Salmonella mentioned earlier. While you can eat some pasteurized Kimchi, it’s better that you don’t take that risk in a restaurant!

Final Thoughts

“Can I eat Korean BBQ while pregnant?”

You absolutely can – just make sure that the meat is properly cooked first. Feel free to tuck in, but mind your portions to keep your cholesterol, sodium level, and blood pressure under control.

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That said, you can never be sure until you get your doctor’s input. They may know something you don’t, and you can trust their judgment to steer you toward a healthy pregnancy. Schedule a consultation with them as soon as you can, and follow their advice to the letter.

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