How Do I Prevent Food Poisoning in Pregnancy?

Food poisoning in pregnancy can be very dangerous and potentially harm or kill an unborn child, but there are many steps you can take to avoid the problem. Checking expiration dates and properly cooking and cleaning foods are all methods that could prevent food poisoning. Avoiding certain foods, such as unpasteurized cheeses, may be helpful as well.

Many foods have expiration or sell-by dates printed on the label. It is important to check the dates carefully and not consume foods that have reached or passed their expiration dates. Sometimes food can spoil before reaching the sell-by date, and discarding any suspicious food is a good idea.

Proper refrigeration can be helpful in avoiding food poisoning in pregnancy. When you bring food home from the store, it is important to put it in the refrigerator immediately to maintain adequate temperatures. Foods such as meat and eggs are especially susceptible to going bad if they are not kept in adequate conditions. Make sure that your refrigerator is set to a minimum of 40°F (4°C) to ensure proper temperature conditions for storing food, and freeze any items that you do not intend to eat right away.


Carefully handling food during preparation is another method used to avoid food poisoning in pregnancy. It is a good idea to wash your hands before rinsing fruits and vegetables or performing any other type of food preparation. Try to use separate cutting boards to chop up meats and produce. Make certain cutting boards and knives are cleaned properly before and after use. Disinfecting these items might be an appropriate course of action.

Using a thermometer can be very helpful for determining the internal temperature of food, and thorough cooking may prevent food poisoning in pregnancy. Even if you enjoy raw, rare, or undercooked foods, it is best to not consume these items, particularly undercooked meats, during pregnancy because they increase the risk of food poisoning. Cook all foods until they are well-done, and when eating leftovers you should make sure that you properly heat them. Many foods come with handling and preparation instructions which may be helpful because they sometimes include the temperatures required to kill harmful bacteria.

There are many foods that women should avoid to lower the risk of food poisoning in pregnancy. Health providers often recommend that pregnant women stay away from any unpasteurized items, including many types of cheeses. You should avoid deli meats and hot dogs unless you know that they have been heated to very high temperatures. Likewise, you should not consume anything that may contain raw eggs.



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