Many women worry about eating cheese in pregnancy and give it up all together so that their unborn baby is not harmed. Others think that if hey only eat pasteurized cheese it will be fine, but actually this is not the case.
What is the problem with cheese?
Some cheeses contain listeria bacteria which causes listeriosis. This results in an adult having flu-like symptoms a few weeks after eating the listeria in cheese. It is not harmful to an adult but can do serious damage to an unborn child. It may result in miscarriage or the death of the child at birth. Therefore cheese known to contain bacteria such as listeria are best avoided.
Which cheeses should be avoided?
- Blue-veined cheeses are definitely out. No stilton, gorgonzola, blue Wensleydale or Blue Cheshire. Absolutely no blue cheese whether it is hard or soft.
- No soft cheeses such as Brie, Camembert, Pont l’Eveque or Taleggio- yes, even this ancient cheese is on the black list during pregnancy.
- No soft unpasteurized cheese made from any kind of milk, including ewe’s milk and goat’s milk.
These soft and blue-veined cheeses have a moistness which provides bacteria with an ideal breeding ground, even if they are pasteurized so it’s just not worth the risk eating them. There are plenty of cheeses you can eat with impunity.
Which cheeses are safe?
Hard cheeses are generally safe, even if they are unpasteurized, as generally they have little listeria bacteria in them and the amounts make them safe to eat. You can use these to cook with and make sure that the cheese is cooked right through and golden brown, not just melted. This is also true for Taleggio, as long as it is thoroughly cooked, it should be fine and this goes for the blue-veined ones too, but perhaps it is best just to avoid these altogether to be on the safe side.
The Greek cheeses, halloumi and feta are good, and so is smoked cheddar, and other hard, smoked cheeses. Parmesan is fine too.
The soft cheeses are good too, cottage cheese, processed spreadable cheeses, ricotta and a garlic and herb roulade.
You can also eat yoghurt, soured cream, crème fraiche and fromage frais. During pregnancy you need lots of calcium and cheese is a good source of this as are other dairy products. They are also good sources of protein and vitamins A and D. You don’t have to give up cheese all together; just don’t eat the varieties which may put your unborn child at risk.