Eating for Pregnancy
Food Safety during Pregnancy
Some foods can carry bacteria or parasites that may make you sick. Some can affect your baby too. Pregnant women are at increased risk for listeriosis, a serious illness that may come from some foods. Follow these safety guidelines to reduce your risk of listeriosis and other illnesses you can get from food.
How Can I Practice Food Safety?
Wash hands, food and surfaces
- Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after going to the toilet, and before and after preparing food.
- Avoid using antibacterial soaps. They may add to the growth of “superbugs.” Superbugs are bacteria that are too strong to treat with antibiotics.
- If you touch raw meat, wash your hands well before handling other foods.
- Wash raw vegetables well. Use a brush to remove visible soil.
- Keep cooking tools and surfaces clean. Never leave food in open cans. Store food in covered containers. Check for safety seals.
- Change dishcloths and towels daily.
Be careful during food preparation
- Be careful with raw and cooked foods. Keep uncooked meats and seafood separate from vegetables and other ready‑to‑eat foods when you are preparing them.
- Do not put cooked foods on cutting boards or plates that were used for raw meat.
- Wash and sanitize utensils and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. To sanitize, use one teaspoon of household bleach in one litre of water.
Keep hot food hot, and cold foods cold
- Keep hot foods hot (60°C or above) and cold foods cold (4°C or below).
- Do not let raw or cooked foods sit at room temperature (no longer than a total of 2 hours).
- Do not eat undercooked meat. Thoroughly cook these foods until their internal temperatures are as shown:
- poultry pieces (74°C), whole poultry (85°C), ground poultry dishes (74°C)
- egg products (74°C)
- meat dishes (68°C)
- Reheat food really well, to an internal temperature of 74°C.
- Cooked foods should be refrigerated and used promptly. Do not keep cooked food in the refrigerator for more than 2 days.
Avoid certain foods
- Use only pasteurized milk and milk products. Avoid unpasteurized juices.
- Avoid eating raw fish. Eat fish low in mercury most often. For information on choosing fish, see the HealthLink BC file Healthy Eating: Choose Fish Low in Mercury.
- Avoid or cook well:
- Hot dogs, especially straight from the package without further heating. Be careful not to spread the liquid from the hotdog package onto other foods or surfaces.
- Non‑dried deli meats, such as bologna, roast beef or turkey breast unless you heat them until they are steaming hot.
- Soft and semi‑soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert and blue‑veined cheese if they are made from unpasteurized milk.
- Refrigerated pate and meat spreads, unless they are canned or shelf‑stable.
- Sprouts, like alfalfa and mung bean.
For more information on food safety, visit the following websites: