Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Foods to Avoid

Certain Meats and Types of Fish

  • Liver should be avoided during pregnancy due its high vitamin A content. A pregnant mother does need some vitamin A, but having too much can cause it to build up in the body and this can be harmful to the baby.
  • Pâté of any sort can contain the bacteria listeria and this can be harmful to the baby. All types of pâté should be avoided.
  • Uncooked cured or smoked meats should be avoided. If they undergo cooking they are safe to eat however.10410140 - meat carpaccio with parmesan cheese
  • Shark, swordfish & marlin should be avoided due to the high levels of mercury in these fish.
  • Limit the amount of tuna eaten during pregnancy to no more than 1 fresh tuna steak (150g) per week or 2 medium size (2 x 240g) cans of tuna as tuna can contain high levels of mercury . At high levels, mercury can harm a baby’s developing nervous system.
  • Raw shellfish can sometimes contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning. Shellfish, including prawns that have been properly cooked and are part of a hot meal are fine to eat.
  • Smoked salmon and gradvlax fish
  • Meat that has not been thoroughly cooked should be avoided. Meat should be piping hot all the way through with no pink meat left. Frozen meat must be defrosted completely before cooking.

Certain Cheeses

44301135 - cheese plate served with wine, jam and honey close-up

  • Dairy products made with unpasteurised milk, soft mould-ripened cheese (e.g. Camembert, Brie or Chèvre), soft blue-veined cheese (e.g. Danish blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort), and all soft cheeses (even those made with pasteurised milk). This is due to the risk of contamination by the bacteria listeria Listeria bacteria cause listeriosis which results in flu-like symptoms and diarrhoea in the pregnant mother. Listeriosis can also lead to serious problems such miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe illness in a newborn baby.
    Note: if a soft cheese has undergone cooking, e.g. deep fried Goat’s Cheese Fritter, the cooking will have destroyed the bacteria therefore it is safe to eat

Raw Eggs

  • Raw eggs & food containing raw or partially-cooked eggs 41525390 - two poached eggs on plateshould be avoided to reduce the risk of salmonella. Both the white and yolk should be solid.
  • Homemade versions of mayonnaise and ice-cream are usually made with raw eggs. But most commercially produced products of this type are made using pasteurised egg and therefore fine to eat (check the labels).


Additional Foods and Drinks to Avoid

  • Vitamins and other supplements, including fish liver oil supplements, which contain vitamin A (or retinol)
  • Peanuts & peanut products only need to be avoided if the mother herself is allergic to peanuts.
  • Undercooked ready meals should be avoided. Ready meals and left over food should be heated until they are piping hot all the way through.
  • Unwashed fruit, vegetables & salad should be avoided. All fruit, vegetables and salads should be thoroughly washed before consumption, including pre-washed salad leaves.
  • Imported frozen berries. The FSAI advises that all imported frozen berries should be boiled for one minute before consumption. Freezing preserves viruses such as norovirus and hepatitis A. Boiling for one minute will destroy viruses, if present.
  • Alcohol should be avoided completely during pregnancy.
  • Caffeine intake should be limited. Limit caffeine intake to less than 200mg per day (see table below).
  • Herbal tea intake should be limited. A pregnant mother should not drink more than 2 cups per day and it is recommended to use tea bags and avoid making it too strong.


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