How to keep your food safe

The foods you eat during pregnancy can help you and your baby be healthy. Eat healthy foods and make sure you handle and prepare them safely and correctly. Handling food safely can help prevent you from getting sick. This is especially important during pregnancy when your body’s immune system is weakened. Your immune system is your body’s way of protecting itself from illnesses and diseases.

Follow these guidelines to help protect you and your baby from harmful germs in your food.

Clean everything.

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables under running tap water before eating them. Remove surface dirt with a scrub brush. Cut away any damaged sections because they can contain harmful germs.
  • Wash utensils and cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use. Don’t use cutting boards made of wood. They can hold more germs than other kinds of cutting boards.
  • After preparing food, clean countertops with hot, soapy water.

Separate, cook and chill food properly.

  • Use one cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a different board for fruits and vegetables.
  • When you’re shopping and storing foods, keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and their juices separate from other foods.
  • Cook foods to their proper temperature. For example, cook poultry until it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F.
  • Make sure your refrigerator’s temperature is between 32F and 40F and the freezer at 0F or below.
  • Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours after its preparation. At room temperature, bacteria in food can double every 20 minutes.
  • Chill foods that need to be kept cold. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
  • Thaw meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator, not on the counter or in the sink.

For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy, visit marchofdimes.org

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