What foods should I stay away from when pregnant?

    Eating a variety of healthful foods is helpful for you and your unborn child when you are pregnant. However, there are several foods you should avoid eating while pregnant because they could impair your health or the health of your unborn child. Additionally, there are some foods that are healthy to consume, but you must be careful not to consume them in excess.

    The primary foods to stay away from are:

    • soft cheeses
    • undercooked or raw meat, fish and seafood
    • pre-prepared or unwashed fruits and vegetables
    • soft-serve ice cream
    • undercooked or raw eggs
    • unpasteurised milk
    • alcohol

    Some foods to stay away from are:

    • caffeine
    • fish
    • liver

    What dangers do these foods pose when consumed?

    The dangers associated with eating each of these items while pregnant vary. Some foods could contain bacteria that are dangerous to you or your baby and can lead to illnesses. Other foods contain ingredients that could be harmful to your child.


    The unusual ailment known as listeriosis, which is brought on by the listeria bacteria, often poses no health risks to healthy individuals. But if you’re expecting, it can make you feel sick. If your unborn child contracts an infection, it may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or early labor.

    Foods that might have listeria contamination include:

    • leftovers and pre-prepared foods
    • unwashed or pre-cut fruits and vegetables
    • soft cheeses, unpasteurised milk products and soft-serve ice cream
    • smoked or raw seafood
    • smoked meats, pâté and cold chicken
    • rockmelon and raw sprouts
    • unpasteurised juice


    If you contract the infection toxoplasmosis, which is brought on by the parasite toxoplasma, for the first time when you are expecting, your unborn child may be affected. Although this is uncommon in Australia, you should still exercise caution because it could result in blindness or brain damage for your unborn child.

    Foods that might have Toxoplasmosis contamination include:

    • undercooked meat
    • unwashed fruits and vegetables


    Salmonella is a bacterium that can give you food poisoning and make you ill. It can result in miscarriage if you have it when you’re pregnant, but this is uncommon.

    Foods that might have Salmonella contamination include:

    • raw or undercooked eggs and eggs that were cracked during storage
    • sesame seeds, hummus and tahini
    • undercooked meat and chicken
    • sprouts


    When you’re pregnant, fish is a healthy and nutritious part of your diet, but be aware that fish contains mercury, which can affect the developing nervous system of your unborn child. Some types of fish have higher levels of mercury than others; these are typically higher in the larger predatory fish, with the highest levels being found in shark, marlin, broadbill, swordfish, orange roughy, and catfish.

    Vitamin A

    Retinol, often known as vitamin A, can be harmful to your unborn child in excess. Vitamin A levels in liver should be kept to a minimum.


    Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder may develop in your unborn child if you consume large amounts of alcohol while you are pregnant. You run a higher risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and early birth if you drink alcohol.


    Caffeine intake can raise your chance of miscarriage, early birth, and low birth weight babies. There are many foods, like coffee, tea, and chocolate, that naturally contain caffeine. Some soft drinks and energy drinks also include it.

    How can I ensure that the food I consume is safe?

    Always take care to store and prepare food securely. Don’t eat anything that has passed its use-by date. The tastiest foods to eat are generally those that are newly cooked or freshly prepared.

    Dairy products

    Eat only dairy products made from pasteurized milk. Avoid mould-ripened soft cheeses like brie, camembert, and chevre (a type of goat’s cheese) and others with a similar rind. You should also avoid ricotta, feta, mozzarella, bocconcini, and blue-veined cheeses because they may contain listeria, which can enter during the manufacturing process. It’s okay to eat them if they are grilled, but otherwise avoid them.

    Hard cheeses like cheddar, parmesan, and edam are acceptable to eat. Bacteria are less likely to grow in hard cheeses because they are more acidic than soft cheeses.

    You can consume a variety of other soft cheeses as long as they are packaged by the maker. They consist of processed cheeses such cheese spreads, cottage cheese, and cream cheese.

    Never consume soft-serve ice cream. It is kept at a temperature where listeria can flourish. Consuming packaged frozen ice cream is acceptable.



    Ensure that the whites and yolks of the eggs are fully cooked. This lowers the possibility of food poisoning from salmonella.

    Avoid consuming foods like homemade mayonnaise, aioli, mousses, and cake mixes that contain raw or undercooked eggs. Commercially produced, non-refrigerated egg products are safe to consume as long as they are stored properly.

    Use only clean eggs; never use eggs that have been cracked and kept.


    Eat all meat and poultry thoroughly so that it is steaming hot and has no trace of pink; avoid eating rare meat; undercooked meat may contain toxoplasma or salmonella; be cautious when preparing pork, sausages, and minced meat, including burgers; wash all surfaces and utensils thoroughly after preparing raw meat; use a separate chopping board and knife; and always remember to wash your hands after touching or handling raw meat.

    Don’t consume cold meats from sandwich shops and delicatessen counters, packaged sliced meats, or cold-cooked poultry. Avoid all pâté varieties. Listeria may be present in these. If you consume hot takeout chicken right away, it won’t hurt you.

    Do not consume more than 50 grams of liver per week or any liver-related items, such as liver pâté or liver sausage, as they are high in vitamin A.

    Fish and seafood

    Fish is suggested during pregnancy since it is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it’s crucial to restrict your consumption of fish with higher mercury levels.

    You can accomplish this by adhering to the following recommendations (remember that a serving is 150 grams)

    • Shark (also called flake), broadbill, marlin and swordfish should be eaten no more than once every 2 weeks. Don’t eat any other fish during that 2 week period.
    • Orange roughy (also called deep sea perch) and catfish should be eaten no more than once a week. Don’t eat any other fish during that week.
    • Any other fish or seafood should be eaten no more than 2 to 3 times a week.

    Within these restrictions, it’s safe to eat freshly cooked fish and seafood. Eat them right away after cooking them to at least 63°C.

    Eat no fish or seafood that is chilled or uncooked. Along with smoked ready-to-eat seafood and prepared ready-to-eat chilled prawns, this category also contains raw oysters, sashimi, and sushi. There is a greater chance of listeria contamination with these.

    Making your own sushi is the most secure method to eat it. Select fully prepared or vegetarian options. Don’t purchase sushi.

    Fruit and vegetables

    fruits food

    Steer clear of fruit or vegetable salads that have already been prepared or packaged, especially those at buffets and salad bars. Listeria contamination is a possibility.

    Eat no rockmelon and no sprouts of any kind; they can be contaminated with listeria or salmonella.

    Fruit, vegetables, and herbs should all be washed to get rid of any dirt or soil traces. Soil can occasionally contain toxoplasma.

    All sesame products, including hummus, tahini, and halva, should be avoided because sesame seeds may contain salmonella.

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