What Foods Should I Avoid during Pregnancy?
You should avoid the following foods in pregnancy as they might make you ill or
Some types of cheese
Don't eat mould-ripened soft cheese, such as brie, camembert and chevre (a type of
goat's cheese) and others with a similar rind. You should also avoid soft blue-veined
cheeses such as Danish blue or gorgonzola. These are made with mould and they
can contain listeria, a type of bacteria that can harm your unborn baby.
You can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and stilton, even if they're
made with unpasteurised milk. Hard cheeses don't contain as much water as soft
cheeses so bacteria are less likely to grow in them. Many other types of cheese are
ok to eat, but make sure they're made from pasteurised milk. This includes cottage
cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, goats' cheese and
processed cheeses such as cheese spreads.
Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.
Raw or partially cooked eggs
Make sure that eggs are thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid. This
prevents the risk of salmonella food poisoning. Avoid foods that contain raw and
undercooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise. If you wish to have dishes that
contain raw or partially cooked eggs you should consider using pasteurised liquid
Raw or undercooked meat
Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly so that there's no trace of pink or blood. Take
particular care with poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers. It is
fine to eat whole cuts of beef and lamb such as steaks, cutlets and joints (but not
rolled joints) rare, as long as the outside has been properly cooked.
Wash all surfaces and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat. It’s also
important to remember to wash and dry your hands after touching or handling raw
meat. This will help to avoid the spread of harmful bugs that can cause food
Don't eat liver or liver products such as liver pâté or liver sausage, as they may
contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.
Supplements containing vitamin A
Don't take high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements or any
Some types of fish
Don't eat shark, marlin and swordfish, and limit the amount of tuna you eat to:
no more than two tuna steaks a week (about 140g cooked or 170g raw
four medium-sized cans of tuna a week (about 140g when drained)
These types of fish contain high levels of mercury that can damage your baby's
developing nervous system. Don't eat more than two portions of oily fish a week. Oily
fish includes fresh tuna (but not canned tuna), salmon, mackerel, sardines and trout.
Eat cooked rather than raw shellfish as they can contain harmful bacteria and
If you would like to eat peanuts or food containing peanuts (such as peanut butter)
during pregnancy, you can choose to do so as part of a healthy balanced diet, unless
you are allergic to them or your health professional advises you not to.
If you have milk, drink only pasteurised or UHT (ultra-heat treated) milk – sometimes
also called long life milk. If only raw (unpasteurised) milk is available, boil it first.
Don't drink unpasteurised goat's or sheep's milk or eat food that is made out of them,
High levels of caffeine can result in babies having a low birth weight, which can
increase the risk of health problems in later life. Too much can also cause
miscarriage. Caffeine is naturally found in lots of foods, such as coffee, tea and
chocolate, and is added to some soft drinks and energy drinks. Some cold and flu
remedies also contain caffeine. Talk to your midwife, doctor or pharmacist before
You don't need to cut out caffeine completely but don't have more than 200mg a day.
To cut down on caffeine, try decaffeinated tea and coffee, fruit juice or mineral water
instead of regular tea, coffee, cola and energy drinks.
It's fine to eat sushi and other dishes made with raw fish when you're pregnant as
long as the fish used to make it has been frozen first. This is because occasionally
fish contains small parasitic worms that could make you ill. Freezing kills the worms
and makes raw fish safe to eat. Sushi sold in shops or restaurants, whether it's
ready-made or made in the shop, should be fine to eat. This is because the raw fish
the shop uses to make sushi must have been frozen at minus 20C for at least 24
hours. Some raw fish used to make sushi, such as smoked salmon, doesn't need to
be frozen before it's used. This is because smoking kills any worms in the fish.
Cold meats and smoked salmon
Some countries advise pregnant women not to eat cold meats or smoked fish
because of the risk of listeria. In the UK, we don't advise women to avoid these
products because the risk is low. However, if you are concerned, you might also
choose to avoid cold meats and smoked fish while you are pregnant.
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