Reducing Foodborne Risks During Pregnancy
Fish and Shellfish
- Avoid eating fish that contain high levels of mercury, including swordfish, shark, king mackerel, and tilefish.
- Eat up to 12 ounces (340 grams) of fish containing low levels of mercury per week. Fish containing low levels of mercury include shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Because white tuna and tuna steak contain higher levels of mercury, women are advised to eat no more than six ounces of these fish per week.
- If you usually eat locally caught fish, check advisories about the safety of the fish. If there are no advisories, limit your intake to 6 ounces (170 grams) per week.
Ready-to-Eat Meats and Soft Cheeses
- Avoid eating hot dogs or luncheon meats that have not been reheated until steaming hot.
- Do not eat soft cheeses (eg, feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, Mexican soft cheeses) unless they are made with pasteurized milk.
- Avoid refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
- Avoid refrigerated smoked seafood unless it has been cooked.
- Do not consume unpasteurized milk or foods made from it (eg, eggnog, Hollandaise sauce).
Undercooked Meat and Eggs
|Type of Food||Proper Cooking Temperature|
|Egg dishes||160°F (71°C)|
|Ground meat||160°F-165°F (71°C-74°C)|
|Beef (medium well)||160°F (71°C)|
|Beef (well done)||170°F (76.7°C)|
|Ham (raw)||160°F (71°C)|
|Ham (precooked)||140°F (60°C)|
Food Preparation Tips
- Before and after handling food, wash your hands with soap and hot water.
- Wash any item or area that comes in contract with raw meat, poultry, or fish.
- Separate ready-to-eat food from raw meat, poultry, or fish.
- Before eating raw fruits and veggies, rinse them and use a scrub brush to remove dirt.
- Take the outermost leaves off of lettuce and cabbage.
- Refrigerate leftovers right away. Also, avoid eating cooked food that has been out of the refrigerator for more than two hours.
- Keep your refrigerator temperature below 40ºF (4ºC) and your freezer at 0ºF (-18ºC) or below. Buy a thermometer to check the temperature.
American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/
March of Dimes http://www.marchofdimes.org/
United States Food and Drug Administration http://www.fda.gov/
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/
Athearn PN, Kendall PA, Hillers VV, et al. Awareness and acceptance of current food safety recommendations during pregnancy. Matern Child Health J . 2004;8:149-162.
Cates SC, Cater-Young HL, Conley S, et al. Pregnant women and listeriosis: preferred educational messages and delivery mechanisms. J Nutr Educ Behav . 2004;36:121-127.
Foodborn risks in pregnancy. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/nutrition%5Frisks.html . Updated May 2008. Accessed June 15, 2011.
Food safety. March of Dimes website. Available at: http://www.marchofdimes.com/pnhec/159%5F826.asp . Accessed September 12, 2005.
How to safely handle refrigerated and ready-to-eat foods and avoid listeriosis. Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/adlister.html . Accessed September 12, 2005.
Listeria and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/listeria.html .
Morales S, Kendall PA, Medeiros LC, et al. Healthcare providers’ attitudes toward current food safety recommendations for pregnant women. Appl Nurs Res . 2004;17:178-186.
What you need to know about mercury in fish and shellfish. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/food/foodsafety/product-specificinformation/seafood/foodbornepathogenscontaminants/methylmercury/ucm115662.htm . Published March 2004. Accessed June 14, 2011.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 06/2011 -
- Update Date: 06/15/2011 -