• food-to-avoid-in-pregnancy

It is important at all times to eat nutritious and balanced meals. However, it is even more essential to eat the right food when trying to conceive (TTC) and during pregnancy. You and your baby require essential nutrients, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to ensure a healthier pregnancy. Most foods are safe, however, there are some foods that you should avoid during pregnancy. These specifically include potentially infectious foods (listeria, hepatitis B, toxoplasma), and food that contain too much mercury or other harmful agents.

There are many foods you should avoid when trying to conceive and during pregnancy, including raw sprouts, certain fish, and deli meat. The reason you should avoid these foods while trying to conceive is because you typically won't know immediately that you are pregnant. Therefore it is important that the foods that could be harmful for the baby are eliminated prior to conception so they are never introduced to the baby. You should also regularly visit and read the USDA Food recall and the FDA safety and recall website to get updates on most recent recalls.

There are certain foods which should not be eaten during pregnancy and when trying to get pregnant. These include certain fish, deli foods, and undercooked meat.

food poisoning word cloud pathological

12 Ways to prevent food poisoning:

  1. Avoid Raw Seafood
  2. No Smoked Seafood
  3. Avoid Unpasteurized Juice or Cider (ues, NO fresh fruit juices)
  4. Unpasteurized Milk is a No-No
  5. Avoid Soft Cheese & Cheese Made from Unpasteurized Milk
  6. Only Consume Cooked Eggs
  7. Avoid Premade Meat or Seafood Salad
  8. Tailor Your Homemade Ice Cream Recipe
  9. Do Not Eat Raw Sprouts
  10. Avoid Undercooked Meat & Poultry
  11. Reheat Hot Dogs & Luncheon Meats
  12. Be Selective with Meat Spreads or Pate

Follow the 4 Simple Steps of Food Preparation: Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill

There are 3 major foodborne risks to pregnant women:

  • Listeria
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Methylmercury

You can prevent a listeria infection:

  • Do NOT eat soft cheese, such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, "blue-veined cheeses," "queso blanco," "queso fresco," and Panela - unless it's labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Check the label.
  • Do NOT eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
  • Do NOT eat refrigerated smoked seafood - unless it's in a cooked dish, such as a casserole. (Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel, is most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky." These types of fish are found in the refrigerator section or sold at deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens.)
  • Do NOT eat homemade salami or sausages that are not cooked well enough
  • Do NOT drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
  • Do NOT eat without first washing your hands after you have gardened or worked with soil.

You can prevent a toxoplamosis infection:

  • Preferably wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox.
  • Do NOT eat undercooked meat, especially no undercooked lamb.
  • Do NOT get a new cat while pregnant and let someone else clean the cat litter.

You can decrease exposure to methylmercury:

  • Do NOT eat shark, tilefish, king mackerel, and swordfish. These fish can contain high levels of methylmercury.
  • It's okay to eat other cooked fish/seafood as long as a variety of other kinds are selected during pregnancy or while a woman is trying to become pregnant.
  • She can eat up to 12 ounces (2 average meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury. Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.
  • Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna has more mercury than canned light tuna. So, when choosing your two meals of fish and shellfish, you may eat up to 6 ounces (one average meal) of albacore tuna per week.

A pregnant woman can help protect herself and her baby from problems by following these guidelines and learning more about which of these foods she should avoid.

Foods you should avoid during pregnancy

  • Do NOT eat hot dogs or luncheon meats (including deli meats such as ham, turkey, salami and bologna) unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
  • Do NOT eat warm foods served in fast food places.
  • Do NOT consume unpasteurized milk, unpasteurized juices, cider, or foods made from unpasteurized food.
  • Do NOT eat soft cheeses, such as feta, brie, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, queso blanco, queso fresco or Panela, unless the cheese is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Hard cheeses, processed cheeses, and cream and cottage cheeses are safe.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pates or meat spreads because listeria thrives at refrigerator temperatures. Canned and shelf-stable versions are safe.
  • Do NOT eat salads made in a store (like ham salad, chicken salad, seafood salad, etc.).
  • Do NOT eat raw or undercooked sprouts (e.g. alfalfa, clover, mung beans, radish).
  • Do NOT eat these 4 fish because of their high mercury levels: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish.
  • Do NOT eat raw cookie dough or cake batter (don't lick the spoon either!).
  • Do NOT eat refrigerated smoked seafood unless it has been cooked (as in a casserole). Canned and shelf-stable versions are safe. 

Food To Avoid In Pregnancy:

avoid unwashed vegetables pregnancy

Unwashed Vegetables

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that is caused by contact with a microscopic parasitic organism called Toxoplasma gondii. When contracted by a pregnant woman, it can pose a serious risk to her unborn baby. You can get infected with toxoplasma by eating fruits and vegetables if they are not washed or peeled.

avoid pregnancy cold cuts deli meats

Deli Meats & Cold Cuts

The third trimester is the period when your immune system weakens so you are at a greater risk of being afflicted by Listeriosis in this phase. If at all you are eating cold cuts ensure that you reheat them until steaming. You can do this by grilling them. Also take foods rich in Vitamin C along with cold cuts to prevent conversion of nitrates to carcinogens. Deli meats purchased from the deli counter have less fat and salt than the packaged lunch meats.

However to be on the safe side it is recommended that you avoid lunch meats and cold cuts during pregnancy for your baby's sake.  

avoid food pregnancy pate meat 


There are several concerns with eating products made from liver in pregnancy. First and foremost, liver products such as pate have been associated with an increased risk of infection such as listeria which can lead to miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnancy.

Liver has a high amount of vitamin A, a vitamin that's been associated with birth defects, and though it is not proven that eating liver causes birth defects, the safest approach is for pregnant women to minimize their consumption of liver. Liver is the only food that provides very high amounts of vitamin A. The amount of vitamin A found in liver varies. For example, a 3-ounce serving of beef liver may contain 27,000 IU and chicken liver, 12,000 IU.


avoid pregnancy raw eggs food

Raw Eggs

Raw or undercooked eggs can carry harmful organisms such as E.Coli and Salmonella, which in turn can infect a pregnant women during pregnancy  leading to an intestinal infection.

 fish pregnancy mercury

Fish with Mercury

 If you regularly eat types of fish that are high in methylmercury, it can accumulate in your blood stream over time. Methylmercury is removed from the body naturally, but it may take over a year for the levels to drop significantly. Thus, it may be present in a woman even before she becomes pregnant. This is the reason why women who are trying to become pregnant should also avoid eating certain types of fish.

avoid raw meat food pregnancy

Raw Meat

Food poisoning during pregnancy is not much different from when you are not pregnant. You are not more likely to get sick during pregnancy and pregnancy is unlikely to make you sicker if you become infected. But there is now a fetus to be concerned about, so it’s best to avoid becoming infected.

Avoid food smoked seafood pregnancy

Smoked Seafood

The only smoked fish and seafood that can be consumed during pregnancy is if it's canned. These are safe. However, the consumption of the smoked seafood that is not canned is not recommended for pregnant women and during pregnancy because it could carry listeria and infect a woman with listeriosis, a potentially dangerous condition during pregnancy. 

raw seafood shellfish avoid pregnancy

Raw Shellfish and other Seafood

It is recommended that pregnant women eat at least 12 oz of fish each week but that they avoid fish with increased mercury levels. Nearly all fish and shellfish contain traces of mercury. For most people, the risk of mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain high levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. 

avoid soft cheese brie pregnancy food

Soft Cheeses

You should not eat certain soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheese  in pregnancy because of a risk of becoming infected with "listeria." Listeria is a bacterium that can infect and kill the fetus.

avoid pregnancy food sushi mercury smoked

Some But Not All Sushi

Regardless of whether seafood is raw or cooked, pregnant women should choose low mercury seafood (eg, salmon and shrimp) over higher mercury varieties (eg, fresh tuna). Pregnant women should ensure that their food is obtained from reputable establishments; stored, handled, and cooked properly; and consumed within a couple of days of purchasing."

avoid pregnancy food unpasteurized milk cheese

Unpasteurized Milk Products AND Fresh Juices

Unpasteurized milk (and products made from it) as well as fresh juices from unwashed vegetable can cause a form of food poisoning called listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by a bacterium (Listeria monocytogenes) and is especially dangerous during pregnancy.

When a pregnant woman is infected with listeriosis, she may have a miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth, or her newborn baby may become seriously ill and may die. 

avoid food pregnancy diet soda

Diet Sodas

Diet soda and pregnancy is an issue that still has not been completely decided. The main issue here are the artificial sweeteners such as saccharin in pregnancy as well as caffeine during pregnancy. Different diet sodas use different artificial sweeteners, and one sweetener may be considered safe during pregnancy while another may not, so it is important to know which sweetener is used in which diet sodas.

avoid food pregnancy hot dog frankfurter

Hot Dogs & Frankfurters

Even if you feel a craving for hot dogs during pregnancy it is better to avoid them, especially if they are not completely heated above 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Although it is said that they can be eaten by expectant mothers when heated to 160-170 degree Fahrenheit for two minutes, you may want to avoid hot dogs during pregnancy as they may still carry the Listeria bacteria. These bacteria cause a disease called Listeriosis which can cause negative effects in the unborn baby which can lead to miscarriage or still birth.

avoid food pregnancy caffeine coffee


Most studies have shown that it’s safe to have coffee in pregnancy as long as it’s less than 3 cups or the equivalent of 300 mg of caffeine a day. Unfortunately, many people often don’t know that sometimes even one cup of coffee may contain more than 300 mg of caffeine. 


avoid food pregnancy artificial sweetener

Artificial sweeteners

The main health issue for pregnant women who use artificial sweeteners is that they may be missing out on more nutritious foods and beverages. If you drink a lot of diet soda, for instance, you may not be getting enough water, milk, or juice, all of which are beneficial to your developing baby. 

avoid food fastfood pregnancy

Fast Food

Fast food should be avoided during pregnancy if possible. These food choices contain loads of salt, sugar and sometimes even chemicals that can harm both the mother and the unborn child. They are also extremely greasy, fatty and full of cholesterol which is not the healthy foods the obstetrician has prescribed for a healthy pregnancy. Fast foods are also linked to faster weight gain during pregnancy and obesity in the general population. Obesity during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes. This disease will only put you on a very strict diet and make things harder for you and baby.

avoid food pregnancy raw sprouts

Raw Sprouts

Raw sprouts should not be consumed by pregnant women because of the potential health hazards they pose. We all know raw sprouts are full of nutrients. Raw sprouts are delicious to munch and they are also loaded with nutrients. They had been quite popular amid the health conscious. But they also carry harmful bacteria so concerns about their ill effects on pregnancy health have arisen.

avoid food pregnancy cantaloupe


Cantaloupes appear  to be a healthy fruit, however they have been associated with potentially deadly salmonella and listeria outbreakes.Listeria is especially deadly during pregnancy, and can potentially lead to a miscarriage or stillbirth. Over the last few years, cantaloupes have ben associated with deadly listeria as well as salmonella outbreak.

avoid smoking pregnancy


Women who smoke during pregnancy double their own risks of dying from future heart disease or from any cause. In addition, smoking during pregnancy cause many complications to the pregnancy such as increased risks of miscarriages, small babies, and prematurity. Women who quit smoking before or during pregnancy reduce the risk of pregnancy complications.

 no alcohol pregnancy


The official recommendation in the United States starting with the surgeon general and continuing with medical organizations is that you should not have any alcohol during pregnancy. Women who are pregnant, those planning a pregnancy, or women at risk for pregnancy are advised to not drink any alcohol. 

avoid canned food pregnancy

Canned Food

 Pregnant women are more susceptible to food poisoning. Canned foods if not closed or jarred properly can become accessible for bacteria, and lead to botulism and other bacterial diseases. Canned foods are heated to an extreme temperature to process them and kill micro-organisms before canning. This destroys most enzymes and nutrients in them, so they are almost like junk foods- a slow poison. 

no food cesar salad pregnancy

Caesar's Salad

The original recipe for Caesar's salad dressing contains among other ingredients raw egg, and similar to other raw food there is a potential risk, though very small,  of becoming infected with a bacterium called Salmonella if you eat raw eggs. Salmonella are bacterial organisms that infect many animals and humans. They are excreted in feces, and can be transmitted through direct contact with feces, or through contact with something which has been contaminated with feces.

food avoid salt pregnancy


Too much salt intake is believed to be a human health risk. However, recent studies have drawn attention to the role of intrauterine environment of fetuses in growth of babies and development of diseases in adulthood. Not enough salt during pregnancy can have and adevrse effect oin the fetus and newborn baby. Salt is one of the integral components for normal growth of fetuses and there has been an increasing number of studies suggesting that salt restriction during pregnancy has a critical influence on the intrauterine growth and development of organs of fetuses.   

no herbs food pregnancy avoid

Certain herbs and herbal teas in pregnancy

The growing popularity of medicinal herbs may increase the deliberate or inadvertent use of medicinal herbs during pregnancy, raising the possibility of adverse fetal or neonatal effects.