12 answers

Is lunch meat safe for toddler?

My 21 month old is a pretty picky eater, but he will eat lunch meat if I sneek it in a sandwich. My husband is now telling me not to give him any because of the sodium nitrate-so my son won't get much meat. Does anyone have any thoughts about whether lunch meat is safe or not?

3 moms found this helpful

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Cold cuts sliced fresh from the deli 1-3 days if stored properly. Be sure to use an airtight plastic bag to store them and put in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in certain ready-to-eat foods such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after cooking but before packaging.

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I give my son lunchmeat too and had not heard about this. But I am going to do what I always do when there is a question -- ask the doctor!!!

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Hormel makes a lunch meat that does not have preservatives. You'll find in the dairy section at most grocery stores. I usually go to a natural foods store to buy lunchmeat because they have more selection of preservative free items, and they taste better than regular deli items. Most recently I bought Coleman oven roasted turkey for my daughter and she loved it!
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Trader Joes has Applegate and better choices. If you are near Naperville, Casey foods carries Boars Head meats. They have NO preservatives etc.
Go on their site and see what other places carry it. It is always in a 'fresh" deli area. Of course Wild Oats or Whole foods. Pay the extra money.....It is worth it.

We are turning into Pickled people with all the preservatives

Hi M.,

Yes, the nitrites and nitrates used to preserve lunch meats can be harmful. Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both sell lunch meats cured without the use of nitrites and nitrates. Both stores are a great place to find food products free of other harmful additives, such as partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. Hope this helps!


M., Your husband is right about trying to stay away from nitrates. I don't remember why they are so bad, but know that they are and you could easily research this online. Nitrates occur in highly processed foods such as hotdogs and balogna. I'm sure there are some lunchmeats that are better than others, and I bet you could get much of this information online. Good Luck!

If you are near Sandwich, Art's Grocery store carries Boars Head meats in their deli.

M. - I have an 11 month old who LOVES lunch meat. He eats Turkey and Ham and Cheese. I ball them up into little mini sandwiches with bread and he chows on them. I have never heard not to give them lunchmeat due to the sodium-nitrate. Good luck with deciding whether or not to feed him lunchmeat.

Avoid lunch meat! Pay the extra money for the healthy meat at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. You can add flavor with healthy sauces, if necessary. If this doesn't work, you can give him protein from soybeans, lentils, and other non-animal sources.
Also, it would not be good for your son to develop a taste for so much sodium from eating lunch meats.

I do not want to sound like a preacher here but since you asked I will share some info on lunch meats. (I have this from my dad who oversees and is a chemical engineer and sees what they do to create lunch meats.) First of all, they use the crappiest of crappy meat for the lunch meats no matter how "natural" you go. Secondly, they use processes to cure or flavor the meat that are carcinogenic to the system. This is aside from the sodium nitrite issue. Third of all, the mom who was telling you about the cooking it getting rid of the problem does not know what she's talking about - maybe the article she read had misinformed information - I don't know? But the issue with heating lunch meats is so that the meat itself is not raw or undercooked. Many cold cuts are just cured not cooked so they can be dangerous to young kids and pregnant mothers or fetus' due to salminella or other food poisoning. It has NOTHING to do with the sodium nitrite. If you need more info I could get it to you but it sounds like you have a lot of input from other moms and you'll do what you are ultimately comfortable with. I am sorry if I come across aggresive about this its just that cold cuts are really unhealthy and most ppl. do not realize how absolutely dangerous they are to us and our bodies. Good luck with your choices!

When I was pregnant I remember reading that if you heat the lunchmeat first, it eliminates whatever the risk is from the nitrates. Have no idea how/why but something I'm sure you could also research online.

If you are worried about sodium nitrates, the lunchmeat at Trader Joe's is nitrate free.

Cub Foods and Jewel also sell nitrate free meats. You just have to ask where they are.

I give my son lunchmeat too and had not heard about this. But I am going to do what I always do when there is a question -- ask the doctor!!!

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