Holiday food safety for pregnant women

Holiday food safety for pregnant women

Pregnant women are about 10 times more likely than the general population to get Listeria food poisoning, according to the CDC, which makes holiday food safety especially important.

The CDC lists several foods that are more risky for foodborne illness, mostly items like undercooked meat and poultry or unpasteurized dairy products.

The CDC website has several tips to help keep holiday guests safe and healthy:

1. Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when:

  • Touching raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables,
  • Preparing food, and
  • Before eating or drinking.

2. Don't share forks, cups, or food with young children. Wash your hands often when around children. Their saliva and urine might contain a virus that could be harmful for you and your unborn baby.

3. Cook your meat and poultry until it's well-done: Well-cooked is well eaten. Meat and poultry can carry harmful germs like E. coli and Toxoplasma. Always cook hamburger, chicken, and other meat items until they are well-done to ensure bacteria and parasites are killed in the cooking process. And, heat cold cuts until they are steaming to avoid possible contamination.

4. Avoid raw or unpasteurized dairy: Raw or unpasteurized dairy can contain harmful bacteria. Avoid soft cheeses such as queso fresco, Brie, Camembert, feta, goat cheese, or Roquefort if they are raw or unpasteurized. Just say no to other unpasteurized or raw products, like milk or juice as well.

5. Be aware of holiday beverages. To reduce the possibility of fetal alcohol syndrome, watch out for alcohol-containing holiday punches and eggnogs. Avoid eggnog entirely unless you know it was made with pasteurized eggs and contains no alcohol.

6. Make sure eggs are thoroughly cooked before eating: Salmonella can live on both the outside and inside of normal-looking eggs. Many homemade and fresh-made foods are made with raw or undercooked eggs: Caesar dressing, ice cream, cookie dough, mayonnaise, and eggnog, to name a few. To avoid contamination and possible food poisoning, always use pasteurized eggs and avoid runny yolks by cooking thoroughly.