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Let’s dive into all things hummus plus one swap all pregnant Mums need to do to make to ensure their hummus is safe for pregnancy!

What is hummus? 

Hummus is so versatile and although I go through loving hummus and liking hummus, what I love the most about hummus s you can make it yourself or even buying the plain version can be taken to the next level with toppings such nuts, seeds, lemon, balsamic vinegar, lemon rind and you can really change the flavour depending on the spices you use during processing. 

If you’re not familiar with what is actually in hummus, it is commonly made up of some pretty simple ingredients namely:

  • Chickpeas
  • Tahini
  • Water and or olive oil
  • Cumin
  • Salt

If you haven’t heard of tahini before, tahini is a low-moisture food that is made from sesame seeds. 

Right now that we are on the same page with what hummus is, let’s look at where it comes from.

 

Where does hummus come from? 

Hummus actually means chickpeas in Arabic with historians describing a very similar dish to what we eat today being consumed in Cairo in the 13th Century. Now in the 13th Century Greek and Egyptians were trade partners so some reports describe hummus as originating in Greece and others in Egypt but the reason for this confusion is because of this swapping and trade of food between these two regions of the world. Pretty cool, hey!

Is it safe for pregnancy and why? 

So, is hummus safe for pregnancy?

Hmmm not really. 

The Food Standards Australia New Zealand recently updated their advice on food safety in pregnant women and hummus is off the list.

I bet you’re wondering why? Hummus seems pretty harmless. I mean it’s just chickpeas, garlic, some spices and tahini. 

Well the problem lies in the tahini. Tahini and a bacteria called Salmonella. 

Say what!? 

Salmonella is usually associated with raw meats and animal foods not hummus so how does this risk come about?

During the tahini making process sesame seeds are soaked prior to roasting and when food scientists test the product for salmonella they found that this soaking step is what skyrockets the growth of salmonella.

They also found that during the roasting process to 130degree there was very little change in bacteria meaning that heating the sesame seeds past the food safety temp of 65 was not effective in killing the bacteria

It’s actually thought that the low moisture high fat is actually was supports the growth of the bacteria.

So best to avoid this one as there has been multiple reports of Salmonella poisoning and recalls of tahini containing products overseas in Europe and Syria, in 2021 in America and Canada. Limited reports in Australia however the FSANZ still recommends not consuming this product when pregnant. 

Salmonella

Salmonella can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhoea, fever and headache. Pregnant women are not at an increased risk of contracting salmonellosis, but in rare cases it may trigger miscarriage.

It’s advisable to avoid foods that contain raw egg and always cook meat, chicken and eggs thoroughly. In addition, the NSW Food Authority recommends that pregnant women do not eat any type of sprout including alfalfa sprouts, broccoli sprouts, onion sprouts, sunflower sprouts, clover sprouts, radish sprouts, snowpea sprouts, mung beans and soybean sprouts, whether raw or lightly cooked.

 

So what do you do if you’re pregnant and craving hummus? 

If you really want hummus, eat cold and consume within 2 days of opening or try my tahini free hummus recipe.