CircleBumpCheckedFilledMedicalBookmarkBookmarkTickBookmarkAddCheckBoxCheckBoxFilled

Is It Safe to Eat Blackened Food While Pregnant?

Find out if those tangy, tasty spices are okay right now.
save article
profile picture of Jenna McCarthy
Updated April 17, 2017
Hero Image

Blackening is a food-prep technique that typically involves coating seafood, meat and even vegetables with a tangy blend of spices, including paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme and oregano. The spice-crusted bites are then pan-seared at extremely high heat to bring out the zesty flavor—and often, a nice, charred crust. Hot, spicy foods in general pose no risks to pregnant women. The concern is that burnt foods may contain cancer-causing carcinogens, and should therefore be avoided by everyone, not just moms-to-be. Indeed, one Dutch study did find an increase in cancers among women who consumed a relatively greater portion of overcooked (burned) foods than those who didn’t, although it’s hard to draw a concrete cause-effect relationship. Still, steering clear of scorched foods is probably a good idea whether you’re expecting or not.

While urban legend has it that eating spicy foods can cause a pregnant woman to go into labor, Hilda Hutcherson, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center and the author of What Your Mother Never Told You About S-e-x, insists that’s an absolute myth. (Still, some expectant moms have been known to embark on a steady diet of suicide wings and jerk chicken when their due dates come and go, in an effort to get the party started already. Alas, it’s not proven to work.)

As long as you don’t burn foods to a crisp when you blacken, the pros say the cooking style is inherently safe—although it still matters what you’re putting the spices on. Along with known no-nos like raw eggs and unpasteurized foods and beverages, the American Pregnancy Association cautions pregnant women to avoid raw or undercooked meat, deli meats and certain seafood. According to San Diego–based expert David M. Priver, MD, FACOG, the FDA list of unsafe fishes changes frequently; currently they advise against eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish, among others, since they have high levels of mercury. Instead, the pros encourage pregnant women to eat a variety of healthy foods—which can include Cajun-style chili and browned (just not blistered) tofu, if that’s what you’re craving.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

save article
ADVERTISEMENT

Next on Your Reading List

cooked shrimp on grill
Can You Eat Shrimp While Pregnant?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
various types of dairy products
Popular Super Bowl Snacks Linked to Listeria Outbreak
By Wyndi Kappes
charcuterie meats in plastic container
Charcuterie Meats Carried at Sam's Club Linked to Salmonella Outbreak
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman drinking red raspberry leaf tea
Can Red Raspberry Leaf Tea Help You Through Pregnancy and Labor?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
close up of cut cantaloupe fruit
CDC Urges People to Avoid Cantaloupe as Salmonella Outbreak Grows
By Wyndi Kappes
peaches and plums at the market
Peaches, Plums, Nectarines Recalled Due to Listeria Contamination Risk
By Wyndi Kappes
woman cutting soft cheese on cheese board
The Ultimate Guide to Soft Cheeses in Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
pregnant woman eating a burger and fries at restaurant
What to Do if You Experience Food Poisoning While Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
kiwifruit
Why the FDA Is Telling Pregnant Women to Avoid Kiwifruit
By Wyndi Kappes
pregnant woman pouring a cup of coffee in the morning at home
Caffeine During Pregnancy: the Real Deal
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
variety of cooked seafood
Is Seafood Safe During Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
close up of pregnant woman holding a grocery shopping basket in grocery store
Top Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Listeriosis During Pregnancy
Listeriosis During Pregnancy
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
non-alcoholic beer wine spirits pregnancy-hero
Best Non-Alcoholic and Alcohol-Free Drinks for Pregnancy and Beyond
By Christin Perry
Best Mocktails
16 Tasty Mocktails to Spice Up Your Holidays
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
balls of raw chocolate chip cookie dough on cookie sheet
Avoiding This Pregnancy Craving Could Save You From Food Poisoning
By Wyndi Kappes
red and black twizzler licorice
Add This Candy to the List of Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
ADVERTISEMENT
woman eating fried food craving
How Your Pregnancy Junk Food Cravings Affect Baby
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
Is Sushi Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Is Sushi Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Medically Reviewed by Kendra Segura, MD
turkey deli meat sandwich
Why the CDC Is Telling Pregnant People to Avoid Deli Meat and Cheese
By Wyndi Kappes
ADVERTISEMENT
Article removed.
Article removed.
Name added. View Your List