An easy guide to what is & isn’t safe to eat in pregnancy

While your baby-to-be will benefit from all the healthy nutrients you’re eating, there are some foods you should avoid during pregnancy as they could make you ill or even harm your unborn baby. The advice on which foods to eat when pregnant is updated regularly, so don’t worry if you feel as though you’ve missed a memo! We asked our experts to clear up any confusion on the main foods to avoid – and how you can continue to enjoy your favourite dishes in a way that’s safe for both of you.

For a comprehensive list of foods to avoid during pregnancy, head to the NHS website.

Eggs – is runny still risky?

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has changed its advice for pregnant women because salmonella has been "dramatically reduced" in UK eggs, so you can now safely eat raw or lightly cooked British Lion-stamped eggs. To help ensure your eggs are safe to eat, the FSA also recommends that you store them in a cool, dry place such as the fridge; make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling eggs; and always observe the ‘best before’ dates.

Cheese – hard or soft?

It’s bad news if you like your cheese as whiffy as an old pair of socks. Soft, blue-veined cheeses (like gorgonzola) are still off-menu, as are soft, mould-ripened cheeses (like brie and camembert). But there is good news, too – pregnant women can eat hard cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan, even if made with unpasteurised milk.

Pâté – play it safe

This is out because of the risk of listeria. Although rare, it can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or illness in a baby. 

Meat – cooked, cured or raw?

Thorough cooking is the way to go. Cured, undercooked and raw meat carry a slight risk of toxoplasmosis (a potentially harmful infection). Liver and products containing liver are off the menu, too, as they contain too much vitamin A (which can be harmful during pregnancy). 

Fish – bump-friendly?

When you’re pregnant, it’s natural to be concerned about mercury levels in fish. There are a few fish, such as tuna, that sometimes contain more mercury than is safe for your baby. Limit yourself to two fresh tuna steaks or four servings of canned tuna a week, and ensure that ready to eat smoked fish is thoroughly cooked before eaten. The NHS provides a list of safe fish during pregnancy.

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