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20 Foods That Are Off Limits During Pregnancy

You may be wondering why there are certain foods you really must avoid during pregnancy. This is for two reasons:
– Pregnancy brings about changes to your immune system, making not only you, but your unborn child more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses such as E. Coli, Listeria and Salmonella.
– Your child is sensitive to certain toxins found in foods you would normally have no issue eating.

For the sake of clarity, we have separated the list into foods you must avoid at all costs and foods you shouldn’t risk either, but can get away with every now and then.

Avoid at all Costs:

1. Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk: cheeses such as Brie, Gorgonzola, Camembert may all contain E. Coli and/or Listeria unless their labels clearly state that they’re made from pasteurized milk.

2. Sushi: Uncooked fish may contain parasites and often contain high levels of mercury, all of which can be avoided by cutting sushi out of your diet.

3. Unpasteurized milk: you’d be surprised how many foods contain unpasteurized milk such as some yoghurts, puddings, some ice cream brands. Unpasteurised milk and foods containing it must be avoided at all costs due to the likelihood of it being contaminated with listeria or salmonella.

4. In the same vein, it’s important to avoid unpasteurized juices and cider. This includes any freshly squeezed juices as they may contain E.Coli. To counteract this, you could bring the juice to a rolling boil and boil for an additional 60 seconds before drinking.

5. Some varieties of fish, such as Swordfish. Essentially, any types of fish that contain high levels of mercury. To be safe, it is recommended that you limit your fish intake to around half a kilo per week, regardless of whether or not they contain high levels of mercury.

6. Speaking of seafood, it’s also important to avoid shellfish at all costs, such as oysters and clams as they may contain what’s known as Vibrio Bacteria.

7. Finally, avoid any types of smoked seafood, including salmon!

Smoked Seafood
8. Batter: I know, this one is painful for many of us. It is imperative, however, that you avoid uncooked or raw batter and this, unfortunately, includes cookie dough. It may contain salmonella, due to the use of raw eggs.

9. Pre-prepared salads: this one may come as a surprise, but it is advisable that you stay away from pre-prepared and pre-packaged salads, especially if they contain some sort of meat. They may contain Listeria.

10. Fruit and vegetables should be a staple in your diet. However, steer clear of the unwashed ones. Make sure to wash them thoroughly as the soil they’re grown in may contain Toxoplasmosis.

11. Raw/undercooked meat: this includes beef cooked to medium-rare. They may contain E. Coli so to avoid this, make sure to cook your meat to above 145 Fahrenheit and above 160 Fahrenheit if we’re talking about pork.

12. Whilst you’re at it, do your best to avoid meat pâtés or spreads as they may contain Listeria. Canned pâté, on the other hand, is fine.

13. Alcohol: this one is debated heavily and often but the truth is, there’s no amount of alcohol that’s known to be safe during pregnancy. It can interfere with the development of your child and can eventually lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other developmental issues. Be safe and avoid alcohol at all costs.

14. Potluck foods: these refer to those dishes at pleasant springtime parties that have been out in the sun for a couple of hours. Avoid these foods at all costs if they’ve been out for over 2 hours and if temperatures exceed 30 degrees, the cut off point should be an hour.

15. In the same way, you should steer clear of doggy bags. We all love them but the truth is, unless you’re headed straight home after the restaurant and putting your leftovers in the fridge, don’t ask for doggie bags at all. The inside of your car can get warm fairly fast, allowing bacteria to multiply with ease.



Don’t risk it often, but you can probably get away with it once or twice foods:

1. Caffeine. Most of us need it to get through the morning, but it can damage the baby’s growth and has even been linked to miscarriages. To avoid these risks, stay away from caffeine at least during the first semester and as a general rule, do not exceed 200mg of caffeine per day.

2. Nitrate-rich foods, for example bacon and sausages should be avoided as they could contain listeria. Just to be safe, even if the label says the food has been pre-cooked, re-heat the meat to steaming hot before consuming.

3. Eggs. This one is only in the list because there’s a high risk of salmonella if they’re not cooked through properly. If they are, there’s no problem.

4. Fish. I know this one’s been mentioned before, but we feel the need to emphasise that most types of fish, regardless of whether they are smoked or not, raw or not, can contain bacteria and parasites. To make sure these are avoided, make sure to cook the fish to above 145 Fahrenheit.

5. Herbal teas and supplements: they’re usually caffeine free but their safety is somewhat unclear for women who are expecting. Therefore, we recommend you avoid them as much as possible.




Foods You Really Should Avoid During Pregnancy. (2012). Retrieved May 11, 2016, from

Checklist of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy. (2015). Retrieved May 11, 2016, from

Kuzemchak, S. (2016). A Food Guide for Pregnant Women. Retrieved May 11, 2016, from

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