Barbecues, picnics and food safety

For many of us, summertime means lots of barbecues and picnics. Both are popular outdoor activities and are great ways to get together with family and friends. They also include lots of grilled foods and side dishes, like pasta salad and potato salad. If you’re pregnant and planning to eat at an outdoor event, here’s what you should know:

Not all foods are safe to eat during pregnancy. Some foods are more likely than others to have harmful bacteria like Listeria or Salmonella. These bacteria can cause infections that can be dangerous during pregnancy. Deli meat, hot dogs, dry sausages, refrigerated patés or meat spread, and soft cheese, like brie and feta, are examples of foods that are most likely to be contaminated with Listeria. Food made with raw eggs, like homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, cookie dough, frostings and homemade ice cream, may have Salmonella. If you’re pregnant, don’t eat these foods.

Cold foods need to stay cold. When foods that need to be cold or refrigerated are kept at room temperature, bacteria and germs start to form. Even if the food looks and smells good, it can be contaminated and make you sick. Always keep pasta salads and potato salads in a cooler. Don’t leave them at room temperature.

Food preparation matters. Foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria when they aren’t prepared properly or when they’re cooked or stored at the wrong temperature. Eating contaminated foods can cause food poisoning. When you’re pregnant, your immune system isn’t as quick to respond to infections like food poisoning as it was before pregnancy. During pregnancy, food poisoning can cause serious problems for you and your baby, including premature birth, miscarriage and stillbirth.

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your baby from food poisoning during pregnancy:

  • Make sure your food is fully cooked. Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, pork, poultry, fish or shellfish. Fully cook hamburger, steak, chicken and pork so they don’t have any blood or pink areas.
  • Don’t eat foods made with homemade mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce or other products prepared with raw or half-cooked eggs.
  • Keep cold foods, like pasta or potato salad, in a cooler.
  • Throw away any food that sits at room temperature for more than 2 hours. It may be contaminated and may make you sick.

For more information visit:
marchofdimes.org
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Foodsafety.gov

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