What would the holidays be without rich foods and family celebrations? During pregnancy, you have to be extremely careful when eating from holiday buffets. Holiday buffets are often laden with foods prepared with undercooked eggs, unpasteurized cheeses and undercooked meats. Each of these foods poses a unique risk to you and your unborn baby.
Eggs Need to be Cooked or Pasteurized
Foods like eggnog, homemade ice cream, custards, and mousses are often prepared with undercooked or raw eggs. Raw and undercooked eggs can contain salmonella. Salmonella poisoning can cause food poisoning and you may need to be hospitalized. Eating foods with salmonella can be life-threatening if you are pregnant. As an alternative to traditional homemade eggnog, look for a recipe that uses pasteurized egg substitute. As long as the egg substitute is pasteurized, the chance of consuming salmonella is minimal and many egg substitute recipes taste better than classic eggnog.
Undercooked Meats are Off-Limits During Pregnancy
If that holiday buffet comes with a carving station or meat station, skip the meat altogether. Undercooked meat can contain the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. This is the same parasite that is present in cat feces, which prevents pregnant women from changing litter boxes during pregnancy. Symptoms typically start 10 days after coming in contact with the parasite resulting in toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can be passed to the fetus. The mother can be treated with antibiotics, but medications may not be effective on the fetus.
Soft Cheeses May Contain Listeria
Soft cheese like brie, camembert, feta, and goat cheese are often unpasteurized. Pasteurization kills harmful bacteria. Holiday buffets often include fruit and cheese platters with spreadable or soft cheeses. Skip all soft cheese unless you see the package and read the statement “made from pasteurized milk.” Safe cheeses are hard cheeses, including cheddar and swiss.
Hidden Alcohol is Not Safe for Mom or Baby
While many holiday desserts are prepared with alcohol, most of the alcohol burns off during the cooking process. If alcohol is added after the dessert is finished cooking, you should skip it and choose a different holiday treat. Fruitcake is one of the most common baked desserts laced with alcohol after cooking.
Pregnant women can enjoy a holiday buffet just as much as non-pregnant women. Learn what foods are safe to eat during pregnancy and what foods should be avoided and you’ll have a fantastic feast.