No sushi. No ready to eat meats. No soft cheese. No sunny side up eggs. Stop me if you’ve heard this from your OBGYN. If you are pregnant, you have likely been told from your doctor that there are some foods that are just off limits during your pregnancy. And no, your OBGYN isn’t being mean, there are legitimate health risks associated with eating these foods due to the potential pathogens that may inhabit them. Prior to being pregnant, your body may fight these bugs off or you would get sick for a few days and that would be the end of it. However, now that you have a baby on board, you are at greater risk for foodborne illness that may also put your baby at risk. Avoiding these foods while pregnant will protect you and your child from harmful bacteria, toxins, and chemicals. Here’s a rundown of the foods to avoid while pregnant:
Raw, undercooked, or smoked meats and fish
Fish high in mercury, such as swordfish, mackerel, shark, and tilefish.
Unpasteurized dairy products including milk, yogurt, cheese.
Raw egg products including cooked eggs with runny egg yolks
Ready-to-eat meats including hot dogs, bologna, turkey, ham, salami, roast beef, etc.
This list may seem long, but for good reason. These foods are more likely to be contaminated with pathogens that can cause harm to your baby. In addition to foods you should avoid altogether, pregnancy is also a good time for improving your food handling skills. A large majority of foodborne illness is caused by improper handling of foods in the kitchen. Here are some tips for safe food handling practices:
Washing your hands before cooking and frequently throughout meal prep.
Use separate cutting boards for meats and vegetables can protect from cross contamination.
Thoroughly cooking meats will ensure that all bacteria have been killed.
Washing and cooking vegetables is safer than eating them raw.
Washing fruits thoroughly before consumption is a good practice to have.
Avoiding potentially dangerous foods and adopting good food handling practices will dramatically reduce the chance of food borne illness during pregnancy. For more information about proper food handling, check out this website!
Foodsafety.gov. Food Safety for Pregnant Women. Available at: https://www.foodsafety.gov/risk/pregnant/index.html. (Accessed: 8th November 2017)
Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association (2012). Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy/. (Accessed: 8th November 2017)