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Make Safe Food Choices for Pregnancy

October 21, 2011

pregnant people cookingMoms want the best for their babies, and typically pay more attention to their diet and physical activity during pregnancy. They eat more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products. Because pregnancy affects the immune system, moms and their unborn babies are more susceptible to bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause foodborne illness. But do you know there are foods to avoid during pregnancy? Pregnant women are at increased risk of bacterial food poisoning because the immune system is compromised.

Here is a checklist to help ensure that moms and babies stay healthy and safe.

  • Raw, undercooked, or contaminated seafood may contain harmful bacteria or viruses. It’s important to avoid raw oysters and clams and refrigerated smoked seafood, such as lox. Cook most fish to an internal temperature of 145°F. Canned, shelf-stable versions of seafood (e.g., tuna and salmon) and seafood cooked to the proper internal temperatures are safe to eat.


  • Avoid undercooked meat, poultry, and eggs. Fully cook all meats and poultry before eating. Cook hot dogs and processed deli meats until steaming or avoid them all together. Cook eggs until the egg yolks and whites are firm as raw eggs can be contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. Bake cookies and cakes. Raw cookie dough or cake batter may contain salmonella from raw eggs.


  • Avoid unpasteurized foods such as unpasteurized milk or soft cheeses. Be sure these cheeses are clearly labeled as being pasteurized or made with pasteurized milk: brie, feta, camembert, blue cheese, and mexican-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso fresco and panela. Avoid drinking unpasteurized juice or homemade apple cider. Check their label.


  •  Avoid unwashed fruits and vegetables as they may harbor harmful bacteria. Cut away any damaged portions as well. Avoid raw sprouts of any kind. Alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean sprouts may contain disease-causing bacteria, so cook thoroughly. Always check with your healthcare provider for specific food, food safety, and pregnancy questions.

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