List of Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Because pregnancy affects your immune system, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to the bacteria, viruses, and parasites that cause foodborne illness. Even if you don’t feel sick, some “bugs” like Listeria and Toxoplasma can infect your baby and cause serious health problems. Your baby is also sensitive to toxins from the food that you eat, such as mercury in certain kinds of fish.


Keep this checklist handy to help ensure that you and your unborn baby stay healthy and safe. And invest in a food thermometer to check the temperatures of cooked food.

Don’t Eat These Foods


What to Do

Soft CHEESES made from unpasteurized milk, including Brie, feta, Camembert, Roquefort, queso blanco, and queso fresco

May contain E. coli or Listeria.

Eat hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Swiss. Or, check the label and make sure that the cheese is made from pasteurized milk.


May containSalmonella.

Bake the cookies and cake. Don’t lick the spoon!

Certain kinds of FISH, such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish (golden or white snapper)

Contains high levels of mercury.

Eat up to 12 ounces a week of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury, such as shrimp, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Limit consumption of albacore tuna to 6 ounces per week.

Raw or undercooked FISH (sushi)

May contain parasites or bacteria.

Cook fish to 145° F.

Unpasteurized JUICE or cider (including fresh squeezed)

May contain E. coli.

Drink pasteurized juice. Bring unpasteurized juice or cider to a rolling boil and boil for at least 1 minute before drinking.

Unpasteurized MILK

May contain bacteria such asCampylobacter,E. coli, Listeria, or Salmonella.

Drink pasteurized milk.

SALADS made in a store, such as ham salad, chicken salad, and seafood salad.

May containListeria.

Make salads at home, following the food safety basics: clean, separate, cook, and chill.

Raw SHELLFISH, such as oysters and clams

May containVibrio bacteria.

Cook shellfish to 145° F.

Raw or undercooked SPROUTS, such as alfalfa, clover, mung bean, and radish

May contain E. coli orSalmonella.

Cook sprouts thoroughly.

Hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, fermented or dry sausage, and other deli-style meat and poultry

May containListeria.

Even if the label says that the meat is precooked, reheat these meats to steaming hot or 165° F before eating.

Eggs and pasteurized egg products

Undercooked eggs may containSalmonella.

Cook eggs until yolks are firm. Cook casseroles and other dishes containing eggs or egg products to 160° F.


Homemade eggnog may contain uncooked eggs, which may containSalmonella.

Make eggnog with a pasteurized egg product or buy pasteurized eggnog. When you make eggnog or other egg-fortified beverages, cook to 160°F


May contain parasites or bacteria.

Cook fish to 145° F.

Ice cream

Homemade ice cream may contain uncooked eggs, which may containSalmonella.

Make ice cream with a pasteurized egg product safer by adding the eggs to the amount of liquid called for in the recipe, then heating the mixture thoroughly..

Meat: Beef, veal, lamb, and pork (including ground meat)

Undercooked meat may contain E. coli.

Cook beef, veal, and lamb steaks and roasts to 145° F. Cook pork to 160° F. Cook all ground meats to 160° F.

Meat spread or pate

Unpasteurized refrigerated pates or meat spreads may containListeria.

Eat canned versions, which are safe.

Poultry and stuffing (including ground poultry)

Undercooked meat may contain bacteria such asCampylobacteror Salmonella.

Cook poultry to 165° F. If the poultry is stuffed, cook the stuffing to 165° F. Better yet, cook the stuffing separately.

Smoked seafood

Refrigerated versions are not safe, unless they have been cooked to 165° F.

Eat canned versions, which are safe, or cook to 165° F.