Food safety in pregnancy
Food safety in pregnancy
Confession: I ate (unheated) deli meat when I was pregnant! I ordered a sandwich I thought was warm and halfway through eating it realized it was cold (I blame a busy day at work for my lack of awareness). I felt terrible & had anxiety about it for a few days. A few weeks after I ate deli meat, I met with a pregnant patient for her 16-week appointment. I asked her if she had any questions about what she can or can't eat in pregnancy. She told me she had been eating Jimmy Johns the entire pregnancy without realizing deli meat was on the "no-no" list. Improved food standards & surveillance have reduced the prevalence of contaminated foods, but the best prevention of acquiring a foodborne pathogen is education!
What should you do if you eat something on the “no-no list” while pregnant?
First of all, food safety for both pregnant woman and healthcare providers is a confusing area. If you're a bit lost on what to do, you're not alone! Pregnant women are at higher risk for food-borne infections because their immune systems are suppressed. A suppressed immune system promotes the survival of the fetus but increases the chance of infection for mothers.
The best way to prevent food-borne illness is through education. However, if you happen to eat something on the no-no list and are concerned you have food poisoning, call your OB provider right away. Maternal infection might be asymptomatic or it might present with mild flulike symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea or diarrhea.
Foods to avoid:
Raw fish: sushi, sashimi, raw or undercooked oysters, clams, and mussels, scallops, ceviche
Raw eggs: cookie dough, fresh eggnog, hollandaise sauce, bearnaise sauce, homemade mayonnaiseSnije and ice cream, mousse, meringue, tiramisu made with undercooked eggs
Raw milk: goat's milk like chevre, queso fresco, brie, camembert, soft blue-veined cheeses (Danish blue, gorgonzola, Roquefort)
Raw sprouts: alfalfa, radish sprouts
Unpasteurized juice: unpasteurized apple cider, health-food store juices, juice bar juices
Smoked meats: refrigerated meats like whitefish, salmon, mackerel
Unheated lunch meats and hot dogs
Safe food handling:
Wash hands frequently.
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
Wash kitchen surfaces, cutting boards, and utensils before and after food preparation.
Separate raw meat, poultry, and seafood from other foods.
Cook food to the proper temperature.
Refrigerate foods quickly to prevent harmful bacteria from proliferating.
Refrigerate all perishable foods at or below 40 degrees F.
Reheat leftover foods to 165 degrees F before eating.