Skip to content

food safety and pregnancy

Download and print as a PDF

Download

What is this information about?


Whilst you are pregnant, it is important that you take extra precautions to ensure that the food you eat is safe for you and your baby’s health.

Some foods are more likely to cause bacterial infections which can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea. Whilst this will make you feel uncomfortable and dehydrated, it can also affect your unborn baby’s development.


So what should I avoid?


Below is a list of foods which you should avoid. Remember you should wash all fruit and vegetables well before eating.

Foods to avoid Reasons for avoiding Food to eat instead
Raw or undercooked
meat – especially rare
steak, burgers, sausages
and chicken.
Cold cured meat (e.g.
parma ham, chorizo,
pepperoni or salami).
Risk of toxoplasmosis –
a tiny parasite that lives
in raw meat, untreated
water, cat faeces and can
harm the baby.
Well cooked meat that
is cooked all the way
through with no traces
of pink or blood.
Liver or liver products
(such as liver sausage,
haggis or pate)
Pate – all types including
vegetable pate.
Contains too much
vitamin A – high levels of
this can harm the baby.
Risk of Listeria (a type
of food poisoning).
Any other red meat
Well-cooked meat that
isn’t pate.
Supplements with
vitamin A.
Contains too much
vitamin A – high levels of
this can harm the baby.
Supplements specifically
made for pregnant women.
Unpasteurised milk. Risk of toxoplasmosis –
a tiny parasite that lives in
raw meat, untreated
water, cat faeces and can
harm the baby.
Pasteurised milk and
yoghurt.
Mould-ripened & blue
cheeses such as Brie,
Camembert and others
with a similar rind,
Danish Blue, gorgonzola
or Chevre.
(These cheeses are only
safe to eat if cooked)
Risk of Listeria (a type
of food poisioning).
Hard cheeses such as
cheddar, stilton and
parmesan.
Soft cheeses made from
pasteurised milk such as
cottage cheese, mozzarella
and cheese spreads.
Check the label – most
cheeses state if made
from pasteurised milk.
Some raw or uncooked
eggs – Eggs without the
Red Lion logo stamp
(check cold-desserts and
home-made mayonnaise)
*Eggs with the red lion
logo stamped on their
shell are considered
very low risk for
salmonella and safe for
pregnant women to eat
raw or partially cooked.
Risk of food poisoning,
i.e. salmonella.
Eggs with the red lion
stamp logo.
Hardboiled eggs,
eggs used in baking,
pasteurised mayonnaise.
Undercooked ready
meals.
Risk of food poisoning,
i.e. salmonella.
Ready meals that are
reheated until hot all
the way through (follow
the instructions).
Foods to avoid. Reasons for avoiding. Food to eat instead.
Raw shellfish such as
prawns, mussels, lobster,
crab and oysters.
Risk of food poisoning,
i.e. salmonella.
All other fish types
including smoked fish**
Shellfish cooked
thoroughly.
Cold, pre-cooked prawns
are fine.
Sushi made with raw fish
that hasn’t first been
frozen.
Occasionally, wild fish
contains small parasitic
worms that could make
you ill.
Cooking or freezing kills
the worms and makes
raw fish safe to eat.
Cooked or vegetable
sushi varieties.
Swordfish, shark
and marlin.
These fish have very high
mercury contents which
can harm the baby’s
developing nervous
system.
All other fish types
including smoked fish **.
**More than two fresh
tuna steaks or four
medium cans (140g
drained weight) of
tinned tuna per week
**More than two
portions of oily fish
a week (fresh tuna,
mackerel, sardines,
salmon, sea bream, sea
bass, turbot, halibut,
brown crabmeat or trout).
Too much tinned tuna
or oily fish can be
dangerous because
of the levels of mercury
and/or low levels of
pollutants found in these
fish. These can build up
in the body over time
which can affect the
baby’s developing
nervous system.
Although more than two
portions of oily fish could
harm your baby, you
should eat one portion
of oily fish a week as it
contains Omega-3 oils
which will help the baby’s
developing nervous
system.
Remember tinned tuna
doesn’t count as an oily
fish.
Too much caffeine 
you should limit your
caffeine to no more than
200mg a day (two mugs
of instant coffee or two
mugs of tea or five cans
of cola).
Caffeine is a stimulant:
it increases your heart
rate and metabolism,
which in turn affects your
developing baby.
Juice, milk, water
and tea/coffee under
the limit advised.

If you have any concerns regarding this information you can speak to your midwife.



This information is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.

This article is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.

Publication Date: October 2018

Review Date: December 2021

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This