Foods on the caution list

  • Avoiding raw or undercooked seafood, meats and poultry is especially important during pregnancy.
  • Changes in the immune system make mom and baby more vulnerable to foodborne illness.

During your pregnancy, almost everyone around you will have advice about what foods you should avoid and what you should eat more of. What about sweeteners, herbal teas, caffeine and alcohol?  Check with your doctor about specifics, such as these:
  • Artificial sweeteners – A moderate amount is OK for most sweeteners, with the exception of saccharin, which is off limits.
  • Herbal teas – Some, but not all, are considered safe if you enjoy no more than two to three cups a day. Blackberry, citrus peel, ginger, lemon balm, orange peel and rosehip teas are among those considered safe if processed under safe standards.
  • Caffeine – Limit daily caffeine to no more than about 200 mg. In addition to coffee, many teas, colas and chocolate also contain caffeine, but in lesser amounts. Decaf coffee and teas, seltzers and citrus-spiked water should top your drink list.
  • Alcohol – Alcohol passes to your baby’s bloodstream and should be completely avoided. There’s no “safe” recommended amount so, for now, just say “no.” 

Good to know

Alcohol passes into your baby’s bloodstream, so avoid it completely while pregnant.

Foods on the watch-out list

Proper food handling is always important to avoid foodborne illness, but during pregnancy, food safety is even more important. Eat only well-done meat and eggs, and always wash your hands during food preparation. Be especially mindful of the foods listed here.

The following are general guidelines for foods to avoid for pregnant women from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The FDA website will have current recommendations and additional details.

Do not eat these foods Make it safe
Deli meats and poultry, hot dogs and dry sausage can grow Listeria, a bacterium that could grow in these foods. Reheat them to steaming hot (165°F).
Raw and undercooked meat may have E.coli. Order or cook your hamburger or steak to a medium or well done temperature of which 160°F is a safe internal temperature.
Sushi - raw fish and seafood as it may contain parasites or bacteria. Probably not a good idea during pregnancy, go with the fully cooked version of all seafood and shellfish (heated to 145°F).
 Refrigerated pates, meat spreads and smoked fish Canned smoked fish is OK
Tilefish, shark, swordfish, king mackerel may contain mercury levels that are unsafe during pregnancy. They are all long-lived fish. Enjoy up to 12 oz. of cooked fish each week such as shellfish, salmon, catfish, canned fish, smaller ocean fish or farm-raised fish.
Raw eggs could contain the bacteria salmonella so beware of eating cake batter or cookie dough, avoid undercooked eggs or homemade uncooked eggnog, undercooked casseroles or quiche.

Don't lick the spatula!  Cook all egg yolks till hard, buy pasteurized eggnog, cook casseroles or quiches to 160°F.

Soft Cheeses made from unpasteurized milk may contain E.coli or Listeria like Roquefort, Brie, Feta, Goat, Blue, Camembert, Mexican – style cheeses (quesoblanco, queso fresco). Eat hard cheeses like cheddar or Swiss. OR check all cheese labels to make sure they are made from pasteurized milk.
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