Avoiding unpasteurized products during pregnancy

Choosing the right foods during your pregnancy is very important. Due to a weakened immune system, both you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to parasites, viruses, and bacteria. Pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to become ill from Listeria bacteria, which can cause a miscarriage or premature delivery. This foodborne sickness is especially harmful since most of the time pregnant women who are infected with listeriosis don’t feel sick. However, they can pass the infection to their unborn babies without even knowing it. That’s why prevention of listeriosis is very important. Here are some unpasteurized foods that you should avoid:


Unpasteurized cheeses: Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk may contain E. coli or Listeria. Examples of soft cheeses to avoid include Feta, Brie, Roquefort, Camembert, Gorgonzola and queso blanco or fresco cheeses. You can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar or Swiss, but check the label to make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurized milk. Soft cheeses made with pasteurized milk are also safe to eat.



Unpasteurized milk: Unpasteurized milk may also contain bacteria including Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella. This is easy to avoid by just making sure you purchase pasteurized milk.



Freshly squeezed juices outside of your home: Even a seemingly healthy glass of fresh-squeezed juice at the farmers market or the local juicery can pose a threat if the fruits or veggies aren’t washed properly.  When fruits and vegetables are cut to be juiced, bacteria from the outside of the peel can be transferred to the edible portion of the produce and since your immune system is suppressed during pregnancy, you are more susceptible to food borne illnesses caused by bacteria in food. 


In order to maintain a healthy and safe diet, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid unpasteurized products. If there is any ambiguity about whether a product has been pasteurized or not, make sure you choose the option that is clearly labeled.  You can learn more about foods that pregnant women should avoid from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services here.