Holiday food safety when you’re pregnant

Sometimes people try new or different foods during the holidays or taste things as they prepare a recipe. But not every food is safe to eat during pregnancy. Some foods may be harmful to you or your baby because of the way they’re cooked or because of germs or chemicals they contain. And pregnant people are at increased risk of food poisoning.

If you’re pregnant, follow these food safety tips at the holidays and throughout your pregnancy:

Cook foods thoroughly, and avoid raw or undercooked foods.

  • Avoid raw or undercooked meat, turkey, chicken, seafood and eggs. These items contain harmful germs that can give you food poisoning, like salmonella infection. Cooking them fully kills the germs.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that your turkey or roast has been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Use this chart to know the right internal temperatures.
  • Avoid refrigerated pates, meat spreads or smoked seafood. If it is cooked into a dish like a casserole, it is OK. Pates that can be stored unrefrigerated are also OK.
  • Avoid products made with uncooked eggs like certain Caesar salad dressings, tiramisu, eggnog or certain sauces like hollandaise.
  • Do not eat raw dough or batter that’s made with flour or raw eggs. This includes pie dough, cookie dough and cake batter.

Use pasteurized foods. 

  • Look for the word “pasteurized” on the label of dairy products, like milk, eggs and cheese. This means they’re heated to kill any bad germs. Unpasteurized dairy products can give you food poisoning, like listeriosis.
  • Avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, which include brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela.
  • Avoid unpasteurized juice and cider, too.

Avoid these items.

Other items to avoid during pregnancy include:

  • Fish that can be high in mercury, like shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. Fish low in mercury are OK during pregnancy  
  • Raw sprouts, like alfalfa sprouts 
  • Unwashed raw fruits or vegetables
  • Store-made salads like chicken, egg or tuna salads
  • Alcohol. There is no known safe amount of alcohol to drink while you’re pregnant.

Wash your hands.

When you’re preparing a meal, wash your hands with soap and water often. This includes:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After touching pets or pet food
  • After using the toilet, helping a child use the toilet or changing diapers
  • After touching garbage
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing

Learn more about COVID-19 and pregnancy

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