Many women worry about eating cheese during pregnancy and give it up entirely so that their unborn baby is not harmed. Others think that if they only eat pasteurized cheese it will be fine, but in reality this is not the case.
What’s the deal with cheese?
Some cheeses contain the bacteria listeria that causes listeriosis. This results in an adult having flu-like symptoms a few weeks after eating the listeria in cheese. It is not harmful to an adult, but can seriously harm an unborn child. It can cause miscarriage or death of the child at birth. Therefore, it is best to avoid cheese that is known to contain bacteria such as listeria.
What cheeses should be avoided?
- Blue-veined cheeses are definitely out. No stilton, gorgonzola, blue Wensleydale or Blue Cheshire. Absolutely no blue cheese, either hard or soft.
- No soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, Pont l’Eveque or Taleggio; yes, even this ancient cheese is blacklisted during pregnancy.
- Unpasteurized soft cheeses made from any type of milk, including sheep’s milk and goat’s milk, are not permitted.
These soft, blue-veined cheeses have a moisture that provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, even if they’re pasteurized, so they’re not worth the risk of eating. There are plenty of cheeses you can eat with impunity.
What cheeses are safe?
Hard cheeses are generally safe, even if they are not pasteurized, as they generally have little listeria bacteria and the amounts make them safe to eat. You can use these for cooking to ensure the cheese is fully cooked and browned, not just melted. This is also true for Taleggio, as long as it’s cooked thoroughly it should be fine and this goes for the blue-veined ones as well, but maybe best avoided altogether to be safe.
Greek, halloumi, and feta cheeses are good, as are smoked cheddar and other smoked hard cheeses. Parmesan is good too.
Soft cheeses are good too, cottage cheese, processed cheese spreads, ricotta, and a garlic herb roll.
You can also have yogurt, sour cream, crème fraiche, and fromage frais. You need a lot of calcium during pregnancy, and cheese is a good source of it, as are other dairy products. They’re also good sources of protein and vitamins A and D. You don’t have to give up cheese entirely; just don’t eat the varieties that may put your unborn child at risk.