Foods you can and can’t eat in pregnancy

Bump appetit

What's on the pregnancy menu?

During pregnancy it’s important to pay special attention to your diet and avoid anything that may carry the risk of food poisoning. But how can you find out what’s safe to eat when pregnant and what’s not? We’ve listed some of the most popular foods mums-to-be enquire about to help you work out what you can eat during pregnancy.

Mussels during pregnancy

Foods you can and can’t eat in pregnancy

It’s normal to experience changes in your eating habits during pregnancy. You may suddenly go off a favourite food or have the urge for something out of the ordinary.

There are certain foods you should avoid while pregnant due to the risk of food poisoning. Likewise, there are plenty of foods that you might think are harmful for your developing baby, that aren’t.

Knowing which foods are safe means you can satisfy your changing tastes while minimising any risks.

Often there is confusion about whether it’s safe to eat soft, mould-ripened cheese when pregnant. The answer is yes, providing it has been thoroughly cooked first.

I'm pregnant. Can I eat…?

The following lists show some of the most common foods that mums-to-be are concerned about. Once you know what’s safe and what’s not, it should be easier to maintain variety in your pregnancy diet, whether you’re cooking at home or eating out.

FishSafe or not?
Tuna✔ Limit your intake to 2 fresh steaks or 4 medium cans a week as it contains mercury
Scampi✔ Must be cooked through and piping hot
Oysters✔ If thoroughly cooked or part of a cooked meal
Prawns✔ If thoroughly cooked or part of a cooked meal
Smoked salmon or trout✔ If thoroughly cooked or part of a cooked meal                            
Mussels✔ If thoroughly cooked or part of a cooked meal
Crab✔ If thoroughly cooked or part of a cooked meal

Playing it safe with sushi

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) classifies sushi as a high risk food during pregnancy and recommends it should be avoided to avoid food poisoning. 

Still unsure? Opt for:

  • Cooked seafood – unagi (eel) or ebi (shrimp)
  • Vegetable – kappa (cucumber)
  • California roll (avocado)
  • Fully cooked egg
Cheese - made with pasteurised milkSafe or not?
Cottage cheese✔                                                                
Cream cheese✔                                                            
Goat's cheese (chèvre)✘ Unless thoroughly cooked and piping hot
Processed cheese (cheese spreads)✔                                                                    
Soft, mould-ripened cheese (e.g. brie, camembert✘ Unless thoroughly cooked and piping hot

Yes please to cheese

There's often confusion about whether it’s safe to eat soft, mould-ripened cheese when pregnant. The answer is yes, providing it has been thoroughly cooked first. This means you can happily tuck into:

  • Camembert
  • Brie
  • Chèvre

as well as cooked, blue cheeses like:

  • Roquefort
  • Gorgonzola

or dishes containing them.

Hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Parmesan and Stilton are safe to eat in pregnancy, even if they're made with unpasteurised milk. This is because they contain less water than soft varieties, making them less likely to carry listeria.

Dairy and dairy dessertsSafe or not?
Mayonnaise✔ If shop-bought. If homemade, check it doesn't contain raw eggs which can cause salmonella
Soured cream✔              
Live or bio yogurt✔              
Fromage frais✔               
Soft ice cream✔                                                                       
Homemade ice cream✘ Unless recipe is free from raw eggs
Baked cheesecake✔ Providing it's cooked and doesn't contain raw eggs
Cured meatSafe or not?
Parma ham

Enjoy a safe meat feast

Pre-packed, cooked meat like ham or corned beef is considered safe to eat in pregnancy. However, many others, including those listed above, are just cured and fermented. This means they could contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites. Freezing them for four days before eating, or cooking them thoroughly will kill most parasites, making the meat safer to eat.

Which of these foods are safe to eat during pregnancy?

Correct answer

Mussels are safe as long as they’re cooked through and piping hot.

Incorrect answer

Raw oysters aren’t safe because they may carry listeria, which can cause food poisoning. The good news is cooked oysters are safe to eat.

Next steps

Safe food tips to remember:

  • Raw, wild fish must be frozen before it’s eaten
  • Farmed fish like salmon doesn’t need to be frozen first
  • Shellfish must be cooked before eating
  • Cheeses made from pasteurised milk are safe to eat
  • Soft, mould-ripened cheeses must be thoroughly cooked first
  • Cured meats must be cooked or frozen unless they are ready-to-eat varieties

Your baby's future health begins here

At Aptaclub, we believe that experience helps to build resilience; and that each new encounter, whether in pregnancy or after birth, can shape your baby’s future development. With our scientific expertise and one-to-one round the clock support, we can help you and your baby embrace tomorrow.

mom and baby

Get in touch with our Careline experts

Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch

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