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Pregnancy and food safety

Having a baby is an exciting time in your life. However, there are a few important things to remember when eating to ensure that you and your baby are healthy.

If you are pregnant, your levels of immunity may be lower than they are usually and you are more at risk of food poisoning. It’s therefore essential to take extra care when handling food. We recommend regular and thorough hand washing and consuming only freshly prepared food. It is also important to avoid particular foods and eat others only in moderation.

Pregnancy and food safety tips

In addition to general food safety rules, there are others that specifically apply during pregnancy. 

When pregnant:

  • Only consume freshly prepared food
  • Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly
  • Immediately refrigerate any leftovers and keep for no longer than one day
  • Avoid:
    • Salads and sliced meats that have been made by others
    • Soft cheese, soft-serve ice cream, ready-to-eat prawns, raw seafood and pâté.
    • Seafood with naturally high levels of mercury, such as swordfish, marlin, broadbill and shark (or consume in isolation to other seafood no more than once per fortnight).

Avoiding listeria

Pregnant women need to exercise extra vigilance in avoiding listeria. Listeria is bacteria carried in some foods that can cause a disease called listeriosis, which is a relatively uncommon form of foodborne illness in Australia. The sickness causes few or no symptoms in most people, but it can have severe consequences for you if you’re pregnant, or for your unborn child or newborn baby.

Recent research indicates that the highest risk foods are ready-to-eat foods and those stored at refrigeration temperatures for an extended period, thereby enabling listeria to grow. If you are pregnant, you need to be aware of these risks and avoid these particular types of food.