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Food Safety During Pregnancy

When you are pregnant your body’s immune system is weaker. You are more likely to develop foodborne illnesses. Most foods are safe to eat when you follow some simple practices. Some foods are not safe to eat during pregnancy. They are more likely to carry bacteria and cause illnesses. 


Food safety tips

  • Wash your hands with soap after touching raw meat or whenever they are dirty. Use warm water and soap. Scrub for 20 seconds.
  • Keep raw meats, poultry, and seafood from touching other foods. Store these foods on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator or freezer. 
  • Cook meat completely. Using a meat thermometer, you can make sure your meat is thoroughly cooked by inserting the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. Cook steaks and roasts to 145F, ground beef and pork to 160 F, and chicken to 165 F. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 F. 
  • Wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Rinse the lid on canned food before opening.
  • Wash cooking utensils with hot, soapy water.


Foods not safe to eat during pregnancy

  • Hot dogs or deli meats unless heated to 165°F.
  • Unpasteurized milk, juice (such as apple cider), unpasteurized soft cheeses (feta, brie, queso, and blue cheese). 
  • Store made salads such as chicken, egg or tuna salad.
  • Foods made with raw egg like homemade dressings, raw cookie dough, or eggnog.
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood like whitefish, salmon, and mackerel.
  • Herbs and plants used as medicines without your doctor’s approval. Some are very harmful including: bitter melon (karela), noni juice, and unripe papaya.
  • Raw sprouts such as alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung beans


Is fish safe to eat during pregnancy?

Fish and shellfish are food sources of protein and healthy fats. However, some fish are not safe to eat during pregnancy. They contain high levels of mercury that can harm your unborn baby. 


Below is a guideline about which fish are safe to eat. Safe types of fishes can be eaten on average 2 meals a week or 12 ounces a week. All seafood should be cooked to 145F and reheated to 165F.


Not Safe
  • Tilefish
  • Mackerel
  • Shark
  • Raw Fish
  • Raw Shellfish
  • Shrimp, Crab, Clams
  • Crawfish
  • Canned tuna
  • Oysters
  • Scallops
  • Salmon
  • Catfish, Cod, Tilapia

Deana Hildebrand, PhD, RD, LD

Professor & Extension Specialist


Christine Walters, MS, RDN

Dietetic Intern, Extension Program Assistant


Tori Compton

Dietetic Intern, Extension Program Assistant

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