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Foods to avoid during pregnancy
While you're pregnant, you and your baby both are more vulnerable to the germs that cause foodborne illnesses. Your baby also is sensitive to mercury and other toxins that might be in some foods.
Select a food below to learn why it's dangerous and see how to make a safer choice.
Why to avoid: Unpasteurized milk can contain a number of dangerous bacteria.
A safer choice: Drink only pasteurized milk.
UNPASTEURIZED SOFT CHEESES
Why to avoid: Soft cheeses, such as Brie or queso fresco, that are made from unpasteurized milk may contain E. coli or listeria.
A safer choice: Choose hard cheeses like cheddar or Swiss. Or check the label of a soft cheese to see if it's made from pasteurized milk.
Why to avoid: Raw or undercooked fish or shellfish can contain parasites or bacteria.
A safer choice: Eat fish that's been cooked to at least 145 degrees.
Why to avoid: Unpasteurized or fresh-squeezed juice can contain E. coli.
A safer choice: Drink only pasteurized juice or cider.
RAW COOKIE DOUGH OR CAKE BATTER
Why to avoid: Raw cookie dough and cake batter can contain salmonella.
A safer choice: Bake the cookies and cake before you indulge. And resist the temptation to lick the spoon.
HIGH-MERCURY FISH Why to avoid: Mercury is a toxin. Fish to avoid include king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish and bigeye tuna.
A safer choice: Cod, salmon and sardines are all safer choices.
RAW OR UNDERCOOKED SPROUTS
Why to avoid: Alfalfa, clover, bean and other sprouts can contain E. coli or salmonella.
A safer choice: Eat only fully cooked sprouts.
Why to avoid: Store-made salads might contain listeria.
A safer choice: Make your salads at home following the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook and chill.
There's a lot to learn about during pregnancy.
Our Pregnancy health topic center has more information about staying safe and healthy when you're expecting.
Sources: Foodsafety.gov; U.S. Food & Drug Administration
- FoodSafety.gov. “People at Risk: Pregnant Women.” https://www.foodsafety.gov/people-at-risk/pregnant-women.
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration. “Advice about Eating Fish.” https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish.