Pregnancy Food Safety

Which foods are dangerous -- and not so dangerous.

General Guidelines

Pregnant women should avoid or reduce their intake of certain foods. Most of us know this, and yet it can be incredibly frustrating trying to figure out what's "bad" and why. Every well-meaning family member, friend, and stranger is eager to give you their particular (often unsolicited) opinion about the vices and virtues of your diet, and every time you read a paper or watch the news, there's some new warning about lurking poisons in the foods you like to eat.

But at the end of the day, it often seems like a big game of telephone: incomplete or incorrect whisperings that leave you more confused than informed.

The main thing to remember, says nutritionist Maria Pari-Keener, MS, RD, of Maternal Health Matters in New York, is to practice moderation and good sense -- a good thing to remember when you're not pregnant as well!

Here are some general guidelines:

  • Wash all fruits and vegetables with water before use. Pari-Keener reminds us that this includes foods with inedible skins like cantaloupe and avocado. Cutting can transfer bacteria from the skin of fruits and vegetables into the flesh.
  • Cook foods thoroughly, especially those containing eggs, meat, chicken, or fish.
  • Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling any meat or poultry products.
  • Check expiration dates for perishable foods.
  • Limit your intake of junk foods and other high-fat foods. Choose healthier alternatives (i.e., lower in fat and chemical content) that will still satisfy your craving.

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