Can I Eat Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy?

By Ellen Fetters •  Updated: 22/12/21 •  4 min read

Chances are that if you’re reading this post, you’re interested to learn if smoked salmon is safe during pregnancy.

This is without a doubt one of the most common questions that I’m asked when discussing pregnancy safe foods and it’s easy to see why.

If you search online, there’s a whole bunch of seemingly conflicting answers.

Can I Eat Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy?

Today, we’re going to clear up the smoked salmon pregnancy debate once and for all.

Can I Eat Smoked Salmon During Pregnancy?

So can you eat smoked salmon during pregnancy? Yes, so long as it’s “hot-smoked” which is to say the fish is cooked during the smoking process.

“Cold-smoked” salmon on the other hand isn’t quite so straightforward and the safety depends on a number of different factors.

Which Types of Smoked Salmon Are Safe In Pregnancy?

Whether it’s fresh, frozen or straight from a can, hot smoked salmon is safe for pregnant women to eat.

The reason it’s safe is due to the fish cooking at a high enough temperature during the smoking process.

As we mentioned, canned or tinned salmon is completely safe to eat as it has to be cooked at a high enough temperature during the canning process killing any harmful bacteria.

One thing to watch out for is if the cans are refrigerated as this can often be a sign that the mean isn’t pasteurized and so safe to eat.

Cold Smoked Salmon

There is a debate in the health world over whether pregnant women should eat cold smoked salmon, and the answer largely depends on who you ask.
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, for example, says that pregnant women should avoid eating cold smoked salmon because it may contain parasites that can be harmful to pregnancy. On the other hand, some doctors say that while they don't recommend eating the fish while pregnant, if a woman does choose to do so, she should cook it thoroughly before consuming it.

UK Cold Smoked Salmon

In the UK you’ll be pleased to read that even cold smoked salmon can be safe to eat, so long as it’s prepackaged and sold in a supermarket.

Due to the high standards set by the UK Food Standards Agency there is a low risk of bacteria and parasites being present in British farm reared salmon which makes it much safer for cold smoking.

Wild Cold Smoked Salmon

Wild cold smoked salmon can be a tricky one and checking if it’s safe to eat is even trickier. The most important thing is has it been frozen first? If it has then it may be safe to eat, however, if you’re unsure give it a pass.

Which Types of Smoked Salmon Are Unsafe For Pregnant Women?

As we’ve discussed, when it comes to the type of smoked salmon that’s safe to eat, it’s normally best to just stick to hot-smoked salmon and avoid the minefield that is cold smoked.

You’ll also need to watch out for the following as these are also unsafe to eat during pregnancy:

Can I Eat Smoked Salmon Pate?

No, smoked salmon pate isn’t safe to eat during your pregnancy due to the risk of listeria.

You might also want to avoid smoked salmon flavored cream cheese, smoked salmon dips and spreads due to them potentially containing other unpasteurized ingredients.

Smoked Salmon Sushi

Another popular question is can I eat smoked salmon sushi during pregnancy? While sushi made with hot smoked salmon is perfectly fine, do make sure that any of the other ingredients are safe to eat too.

How Much Smoked Salmon Can I Eat Whilst Pregnant?

The current advice from the NHS advises that pregnant women should eat fish regularly during pregnancy, however they should limit their intake of oily fish to one or two portions per week due to the possible risk of mercury build up.

The Bottom Line

So there you have it. Can you eat smoked salmon during pregnancy? Yes, smoked salmon is perfectly safe to eat so long as it’s been hot-smoked and isn’t in a meal with any other harmful ingredients. As always, if you’re in doubt about if you can eat something during your pregnancy or not, always aim to be overly cautious and avoid it.

Ellen Fetters

Ellen Fetters, is a former Children's and Young People's Nursing Practice with an BSc from the University of Sunderland. After completing her SCPHN - HV she then worked as a Health Visitor within the local community.

In 2017 Ellen left nursing to launch Parenting Click, an online parenting resource aimed at creating happier families through better parenting.

She lives with her husband, beautiful baby girl, and two darling dogs. She spends her free time writing, running and learning how to become a better parent.