Steer clear of foods that pose health risks for you and your baby. When you're pregnant, eating for two means many things, and one of them is steering clear of foods that pose health risks for you and your baby. While your favorite dishes and drinks may seem safe at first glance, a closer look reveals potential dangers. Here's what to avoid when you're pregnant, and why.
There are 3 major foodborne risks to pregnant women:

  • Listeria
  • Methylmercury
  • Toxoplasmosis

This is what you can do to prevent these risks:

  1. Follow the 4 Simple Steps of Food Preparation: Clean-Separate-Cook-Chill
  2. Do NOT eat hot dogs and luncheon meats - unless they're reheated until steaming hot.
  3. 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.
  4. Do NOT eat refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
  5. 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.)
  6. Do NOT eat undercooked meat, especially no undercooked lamb.
  7. Do NOT eat homemade salami or sausages that are not cooked well enough
  8. Do NOT drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or eat foods that contain unpasteurized milk.
  9. Do NOT eat the following fish:
    a. shark,
    b. tilefish,
    c. king mackerel,
    d. 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. You 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. This also includes salmon, shrimp, canned light tuna, pollock, and catfish
  10. Wash Your Hands First: Do not eat without first washing your hands after you have gardened or worked with soil. Preferably wear gloves when gardening or handling sand from a sandbox.
  11. Don't get a new cat while pregnant and let someone else clean the cat litter.
  12. Fish caught in rivers, lakes, streams, or any other body of water. Recreational anglers may hook fish contaminated with bacteria or chemicals. Check the safety of fish from your favorite fishing grounds with your local health department.
  13. Hot dogs and luncheon meats, including deli ham, turkey, bologna, and salami -- unless they have been reheated until steaming hot. These foods are prone to Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that causes listeriosis, which may result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or other serious health problems.
  14. Unpasteurized dairy foods, including some milk and certain cheeses, such as Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, blue-veined, "queso blanco," "queso fresco," and Panela; refrigerated pates or meat spreads; and refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, or mackerel (most often labeled as "nova-style," "lox," "kippered," "smoked," or "jerky"). These foods may contain harmful levels of listeria bacteria. Refrigerated smoked seafood is safe when it's part of a cooked dish, like casseroles.
  15. Unpasteurized juices, such as cider purchased from roadside stands, at farms, or in stores. These products are prone to germs, including E. coli. Check the label to be sure juice is pasteurized.
  16. Raw vegetable sprouts, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. The FDA says sprouts are not a good idea for anyone, never mind pregnant women who are more susceptible to the health effects of the germs sprouts possess.
  17. Herbal supplements and teas. Herbs are natural, but herbal products have not been studied enough to recommend them during pregnancy.
  18. Alcohol. Beer, wine, and spirits rob developing cells of oxygen, making normal development impossible. The effects of alcohol on intellectual prowess are irreparable. According to the March of Dimes, there is no known safe level for alcohol consumption in pregnancy.