Food: What is Dangerous During Pregnancy?

What foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

There are very few foods that we recommend avoiding during pregnancy. Pregnancy is a time when you should be eating a well-balanced diet from all of the food groups.

A few things we specifically recommend avoiding:

Unpasteurized milk

Soft cheeses

Certain fish, see section: Fish and Shellfish During Pregnancy

Deli meats

Refrigerated pates or meat spreads

Refrigerated smoked seafood (unless it has also been cooked)

Listeria: The risks of unpasteurized milk, soft cheeses, and luncheon meats

All of these items can carry a bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes. Infection with this bacterium can cause a condition called listeriosis. This can affect the pregnancy and lead to miscarriage, serious illness to the baby, premature delivery, or stillbirth. Infection with Listeria is actually not very common, but the immune system of a pregnant woman is slightly depressed making her more likely to become very ill from it.

There are steps recommended by the FDA to decrease your risk of infection:

▪ Do not eat hot dogs or deli meats such as turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, or bologna unless they are heating to steaming hot. This includes sandwiches from restaurants.

▪ Avoid soft cheeses like feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela, unless the cheese is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, and cream and cottage cheeses are safe.

▪ Do not drink unpasteurized milk or food made from it

▪ Do not eat refrigerated pâtés, meat spreads, or smoked seafood (unless it has been cooked).

Salmonella and E. coli: The risks of raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices

Raw vegetable sprouts (alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean) and fresh unpasteurized fruit and vegetable juices (things you can get in a juice bar) can carry Salmonella and E. coli. Infections with these bacteria can cause severe nausea, fever, diarrhea, and cramping.

Packaged juices that are unpasteurized will have a label that states they are not pasteurized.

Salmonella: The risks of eggs

Eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. Anything with raw or only partially cooked eggs should be avoided—this includes egg nog, uncooked cookie dough, and licking the spoon from the brownie batter bowl! Eggs should be cooked until both the yolk and white are firm.

What about sushi?

Do not eat raw or undercooked fish or shellfish including oysters. Sushi or sashimi is more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than foods made from cooked fish.

The risks of undercooked meat or poultry

According to the FDA, pregnant women should use a meat thermometer to make sure that meat and chicken are cooked thoroughly. Undercooked meat carries an increased risk of multiple different kinds of illnesses including listeriosis and Campylobacter infections, salmonellosis and toxoplasmosis. Undercooked poultry carries a risk of salmonellosis which can cause severe nausea, fever, diarrhea, and cramping. Undercooked ground beef carries a risk of, E. Coli, with symptoms similar to those of salmonellosis.

Any time you are cooking with meat or poultry, wash all knives and cutting boards thoroughly with hot, soapy water before moving to the next food items. Wash your hands often!

Use a meat thermometer when cooking meat and insert the tip into the center of the meat. Recommended minimum cooking temperatures are as follows:

▪ Pork roasts and chops: 145 F

▪ Beef, veal, and lamb roasts and steaks: 145 F

Ground beef, veal, lamb and pork: 160 F

Ground poultry: 165 F

▪ Chicken breasts: 170 F

▪ Whole poultry: 180 F

Please refer to the following website for more information: