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Food and pregnancy: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

While you are pregnant

While you are pregnant it is important to make sure that you and your unborn baby stay healthy. This will give you information on simple precautions you can take to avoid infections from food and animals. Including advice on foods which it would be wise not to eat during your pregnancy.

A healthy diet is also important when you are pregnant. You can get advice on nutrition from your doctor, midwife or health visitor.

Don't become over-anxious about the possibility of catching the diseases described here. Most of them are very rare, and it is unlikely that you or your unborn baby will affected. Nevertheless, it is sensible to take the simple precautions given in this booklet to reduce the risk to yourself and your baby.


This section gives advice on the preparation, cooking and eating of some everyday foods. it also tells you which foods you should not eat. Always wash your hands before and after preparing food.


You can enjoy hard cheeses such as cheddar. Cottage cheese, processed cheese and cheese spreads, can all be eaten safely as well.

However, while you are pregnant it is wise to avoid all soft ripened cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and similar blue-veined varieties. In the past, some samples of these cheeses have contained high levels of Listeria bacteria, which may harm your unborn child.

Sometimes it's not easy to tell the type of cheese, so it is best to check the label. If you're not sure, play safe and don't eat it.


Some types of pâté may contain high levels of Listeria. To be on the safe side, do not eat any type of pâté while you are pregnant.

Cooked-chilled meals and ready-to-eat poultry

Cooked-chilled meals are ready-cooked foods sold chilled (not frozen) for the customer to eat either cold or reheated at home. Listeria have been found in cooked-chilled meals and ready-to-eat poultry including plain roast chicken. To be on the safe side, you should reheat these types of food thoroughly until they are piping hot throughout rather than eat them cold or lukewarm.


Eggs may contain Salmonella bacteria which cause sickness and diarrhoea. While you are pregnant, you should eat only eggs which are cooked until both the white and the yolk are solid. Raw eggs, or foods containing them (such as mousses and 'home-made' mayonnaise) should always be avoided.

Commercially produced products, such as bottled mayonnaise, are made with pasteurised eggs. These may be eaten safely.

Some shops sell pasteurised egg products - either in liquid or dry form - for use at home. These can be used safely in recipes that would otherwise require the use of raw or partially cooked eggs. Once opened or made-up, these products should be treated as fresh egg and used straight away or stored in a refrigerator until needed.

Preparing and cooking poultry, meat and meat products

Uncooked poultry and meat may be contaminated with bacteria which cause food poisoning. These bacteria are destroyed when you cook food at high temperatures, because heat kills bacteria. Raw meat may also contain Toxoptasma, an organism which can, in rare cases, affect the unborn child. Again, this is destroyed by thorough cooking.

Thoroughly wash your hands, and all work surfaces which have been in contact with raw meat and poultry, after handling and preparation. Remember to cook all poultry and meat, including burgers and sausages, so that the juices run clear and there is no remaining blood or pinkness.


Do not drink raw milk from cows, sheep or goats. This milk has not been heat-treated a