Until now, most pregnant women could only consume this product after a previous freeze due to fear of toxoplasmosis, a dangerous disease for the fetus
One of the most disheartening moments for pregnant women – at least gastronomically speaking – is when they are announced in the gynecological consultation that they cannot eat serrano ham during their pregnancy due to the toxoplasma gondii parasite, which can cause malformations or spontaneous abortion. Thus, before them, they open nine long months that many crave a journey through the desert if they can not take a bite of a good Iberian, especially at Christmas, when a plate of ham tempts in each family agape.
Is the freezing of ham over?
The only way to indulge, according to medical recommendations, is to previously freeze the serrano ham and, once thawed, there is a free way to get fed up with this delicious delicacy (provided that no more than 24 hours have elapsed since the defrosting). Although, obviously, it loses flavor and part of the charm of a freshly cut streak.
However, all this trajín seems to have passed to a better life, since research has shown that you can eat safely without being able to exceed 18 months of healing (some studies suggest that 14 is enough) and comply with all controls sanitary
Until now the protocol was to advise against it, but it has been shown that healing eliminates the parasite
In short, it is essential that we look at those months of healing, a detail that manufacturers must record in the product labeling. This has been corroborated by several studies carried out by the Andalusian Technological Center of the Meat Sector (TEICA) in 2012 that have ruined this rule. The explanation is found in the healing process to which the ham is subjected to sea salt and prevents the survival of the toxoplasmosis parasite. Therefore, healing is considered one more method of cooking.
In this regard, the head of the Gynecology Unit of the Guadalajara Hospital and secretary of the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO), María Jesús Cancelo, has added that “in periods of healing of the ham exceeding 24 months has been proven that the product is safer. Therefore, the longer the healing time of the ham, the greater the security ”. Given such evidence, the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) has confirmed that it is possible to consume ham during pregnancy provided that, remember, the process and healing time is adequate.
Other studies carried out by researchers from the universities of Granada and Valencia also reached the same conclusion in 2016. However, although the encouraging results date back several years, it is now when the TEICA and the Spanish Society of Gynecology and Obstetrics (SEGO) have joined forces to report the conclusions of the studies to medical professionals so that they vary their recommendations on consumption habits to pregnant women. Therefore, the protocol is already changing. As explained by Juan Carlos Racero, manager of the Technological Center of the Meat in Andalusia, this agreement “will mean that medical managers have a protocol, backed by a scientific study, to inform pregnant women about the consumption of ham.”
In case there are clueless pregnant women, the different brands such as Joselito or Romero Carvajal already inform about the scoop on their different websites. Likewise, the Women’s Unit of the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Córdoba last June hastened to organize a conference in which they addressed the issue of pregnancy and ham. The event had the collaboration of the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) Los Pedroches and PDO Priego de Córdoba.
Although there were always lucky pregnant women
In any case, it should be remembered that certain pregnant women are immune to toxoplasmosis and, therefore, have no problems with ham and other sausages. Not surprisingly, toxoplasmosis is an infection that contracts quite easily. In addition, in many cases, their symptoms are confused with those of the flu or infectious mononucleosis. Thus, only having it once (even in childhood) will serve to develop an immunity that will accompany us for the rest of life.
However, many pregnant women have never been infected and these circumstances force them to take a series of precautions such as the prohibition of eating raw or undercooked meats or fish during their pregnancy due to toxoplasmosis. They also have to be very careful with the cat’s feces and with the soil when gardening is done, in addition to extreme care with the washing of the fruit and vegetables to be consumed raw.
The ham, heart-healthy eating
Therefore, there is no longer reason for pregnant women to deprive themselves of a heart-healthy food full of vitamins such as ham. Not surprisingly, this product provides iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and folic acid, in addition to being rich in vitamin B1, while also providing vitamin B2, B3, B6 and traces of vitamin D, among others. It also has oleic acid that helps improve LDL cholesterol levels (known as ‘bad’) and improve HDL levels (‘good’).
In the opinion of the coordinator of the Center for Agri-Food Research and Quality of the Pedroches Valley (CICAP), Manuela Hernández, “the needs of minerals and vitamins in pregnancy are rising; therefore, we need a diet rich in minerals and vitamins of the B complex (of animal origin) ”.