Tips on which Foods to Avoid while Pregnant
An expectant mom’s life is filled with focusing on staying healthy and getting sufficient sleep and vitamins and minerals to ensure that the baby growing inside her develops properly and is born healthy. There are about as many “do’s” as there are “don’ts” in pregnancy.
In addition to the obvious warnings about consumption of alcohol and caffeine during pregnancy, there are many things to be aware of when considering what to eat. It’s not that these potential issues don’t exist when a person isn’t pregnant, but because there is a second, developing life involved in pregnancy, expectant moms need to be extra cautious – not panicked, but cautious – about the foods they eat.
Below is a list of foods that should be avoided while pregnant.
Raw meat such as uncooked seafood, or rare or undercooked beef or chicken/turkey may contain coliform, toxoplasmosis, and salmonella. Fish, beef, veal, and lamb need to be cooked to 145°F, and pork and all ground meat to 160°F. Chicken and turkey need to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F. If stuffed, the stuffing temperature should be 165°F, or it is suggested to cook the stuffing separately.
Deli Meat and Pate
Deli meat, ready-to-eat meats (pate), and hotdogs, may be contaminated with Listeria, which can cross the placenta and cause infection or blood poisoning in a developing baby. “Even if the label says that the meat is precooked, reheat these meats to steaming hot or 165°F before eating” (Foodsafety.org).
Soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco which are made from unpasteurized milk can contain E. coli or Listeria. Read the label to make sure the product is made from pasteurized milk. (Author’s note: I ate feta cheese throughout my last pregnancy and had absolutely no issues.) Unpasteurized fruit juices also have the potential to carry these bacteria.
Fish is good for their level of omega-3 fatty acids, low levels of saturated fats, and high-quality protein, but there are several concerns. Raw or uncooked fish can contain bacteria and should be cooked to 145°F. Kinds of fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel and golden or white snapper can be high in mercury, which can damage a developing baby’s nervous system. Shrimp, salmon, pollock, and catfish are lower in mercury and are safe up to 12 ounces per week. Consumption of albacore tuna should be restricted to 6 ounces per week. Smoked seafood including jerky can also contain Listeria.
“The majority of seafood-borne illness is caused by undercooked shellfish, which include oysters, clams, and mussels. Cooking helps prevent the algae-related infections that are associated with red tides. Raw shellfish pose a concern for everybody, and they should be avoided altogether during pregnancy” (American Pregnancy Association).
Raw eggs and raw cookie dough and cake batter all have the potential to carry Salmonella. Beware of homemade Caesar dressings, mayonnaise, ice cream, custard and Hollandaise sauces which could be made with raw eggs. Even eggnog should be avoided if it made with unpasteurized eggs. Once cooked, these products are fine.
Darlene Oakley is freelance writer for EmpowHER.com.
Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Web. Mar 6, 2012. http://foodsafety.gov/keep/groupofpeople/pregnant/chklist_pregnancy.html
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association. Web. Mar 6, 2012. http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/foodstoavoid.html
Pregnancy nutrition: Foods to avoid during pregnancy. Mayo Clinic. Web. Mar 6, 2012. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-nutrition/PR00109