What foods are unsafe in pregnancy?

  • September 22, 2021
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It’s important to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet with lots of variety while you are pregnant, but there are a several foods that are best avoided:

  • Cured meats, deli meats, hot dogs, sausages, and bacon—unless they are cooked well and have steam coming out. These meats may contain listeria, a bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Pregnant women are more susceptible to listeria and an infection puts them at risk of a miscarriage, stillbirth, or preterm birth.
  • Raw or undercooked meat. Meat and poultry should be cooked until there is no pink on the interior, generally medium-well to well-done.
  • Raw or undercooked seafood including crabs, oysters, mussels, shrimp, or ceviche. Fresh, raw seafood may contain parasites such as tapeworms and may also harbor listeria.
  • Smoked fish or spreads that contain fish—unless they are contained in a dish or casserole that has been heated to 165 F. These items also pose a listeria risk.
  • Large fish, including swordfish, shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and bigeye tuna. These fish contain high amounts of mercury.
  • Raw or undercooked eggs. Cook eggs till yolks are set and avoid tasting raw cookie dough or batter made with eggs.
Cheese and Dairy
  • Unpasteurized dairy. Raw milk and raw-milk cheeses can be contaminated with listeria. Stick to cheeses that are clearly made with pasteurized milk. However, unpasteurized cheese that’s been cooked until it’s hot and bubbly throughout is okay.
Fruit and Vegetable Considerations
  • Certain salads. Salad bars, pre-packaged salads, and store-made salads—such as chicken salad from the deli—are best avoided. These foods have been handled more, which opens the door to contamination, and they may not have been properly refrigerated. Similarly, bagged salads that show sights of deterioration, like crushed or slimy leaves, should be avoided.
  • Unwashed fruit or vegetables. Pregnant or not, it’s always best to wash produce before eating it.
  • Raw sprouts such as mung bean, alfalfa and radish sprouts. Sprouts need warm, humid conditions to grow—conditions dangerous bacteria also like.

There’s no safe level of alcohol consumption during pregnancy.


If you are pregnant, you can still wake up with a cup of joe, but limit it to only 12 oz a day. 200 mg of caffeine is the maximum amount that is safe for pregnant people to consume daily. The fetus can’t metabolize the same amount of caffeine as you, so it’s best to keep intake to a minimum. Be aware that caffeine could be hiding in iced tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and even coffee ice cream.

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