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Advice regarding Food Safety while Pregnant

Healthy Eating during pregnancy

Now you’re pregnant there is some important advice about food safety. On the whole, you don’t need to change your eating habits, eat for two or do anything other than eat a varied, healthy diet.

Yet some foods are off the table and others it is advised to only eat  moderation. Here are some important things you should know about. If you have further questions, please ask your midwife.

Liver and pate

Don't eat liver or products containing liver, like liver pâté, liver sausage or haggis. Also avoid all other pâté s including the vegetarian kind as it could still contain listeria.  pâté may contain a lot of Vitamin A which can be harmful to developing babies.

Raw eggs

Eggs Lion Coded are those with a red lion logo on their shell, which are considered safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked. So, you can help yourself to soft-boiled eggs, that delicious chocolate mousse, soufflés and fresh mayonnaise if the eggs were produced under the Lion Code. 

If they’re not Lion Code eggs, make sure they’re are cooked thoroughly. This means cooking until the whites and yolks are solid to prevent the risk of salmonella.

Uncooked meat

You are advised to stay away from raw or undercooked meat because of the potential risk of toxoplasmosis. This is an infection caused by a parasite.

Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly, making sure it's steaming hot and has no trace of pink or blood. Be especially careful with poultry, pork, sausages and minced meat, including burgers.

Cold meats

Many cold meats like salami, prosciutto, chorizo and pepperoni are not cooked, they're just cured and fermented. This means there's a risk they contain toxoplasmosis-causing parasites too. 

Check the instructions on the pack to see whether the product needs cooking. Pre-packed meats like ham and corned beef are considered safe to eat in pregnancy.


Avoid eating game that has been shot with lead pellets while you're pregnant. It might contain high levels of lead.

Vitamin and fish oil supplements

Don't take high-dose multivitamin supplements, fish liver oil supplements, or any supplements containing vitamin A.


Avoid shark, swordfish or marlin and limit the number of oily fish including tuna, salmon, trout, herring and mackerel you eat to two portions per week. These fish can contain pollutants, such as mercury, which could affect your baby's nervous system.

Tinned tuna doesn't count as oily fish, so you can eat four medium-sized cans a week on top of two portions of oily fish (but not fresh tuna).

Avoid eating ready-to-eat cold-smoked or cured fish, because of the risk of listeria. This includes smoked salmon, gravlax or raw fish in sushi. If you cook the fish until it is steaming hot all the way through, it is safe to eat.


Never eat raw shellfish, that includes mussels, lobster, crab, prawns, scallops and clams. Shellfish can contain harmful bacteria and viruses that can cause food poisoning. Cold pre-cooked prawns are fine. Also Avoid sushi


Help yourself to peanuts or food containing peanuts like peanut butter. That is, unless you're allergic to them or a health professional advises you not to.

Unpasteurised milk and soft cheese

Stick to pasteurised or ultra-heat treated (UHT)/long-life milk. If only raw (unpasteurised) milk is available, boil it first.

Don't drink unpasteurised goats' or sheep's milk. Avoid eating foods made from unpasteurised milks (e.g., soft goats' cheese), mould-ripened soft cheese (e.g., brie or camembert) or soft blue-veined cheese (e.g., Roquefort or Danish blue).

Unpasteurised milk and cheese could contain listeria, which can cause a rare infection called listeriosis That might lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or serious illness in new-born babies.


High levels of caffeine can result in miscarriage or babies having a low birth weight, which can cause health problems in later life. You don't need to cut out caffeine but avoid having more than 200mg a day. Avoid energy drinks. The approximate amount of caffeine found in food and drinks is a:

  • mug of instant coffee: 100mg  
  • mug of filter coffee: 140mg  
  • mug of tea: 75mg 
  • can of cola: 40mg  
  • 50g portion of dark chocolate: less than 25mg 
  • 50g portion of milk chocolate bar: less than 10mg.

Herbal and green teas

There's little information on their safety so aim for no more than four cups a day. Ask your GP or midwife about specific herbal products. Oh, and bear in mind that green tea contains caffeine.

One study suggested liquorice might be harmful during pregnancy but no guidelines have been made. The NHS suggests you can have moderate amounts of liquorice sweets and teas but should avoid liquorice root herbal remedies.

Packaged ultra-processed foods

Packaged ultra-processed foods that have sugar and salt added, as they may increase your risk of gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.

*Ensure all foods are within their use by dates and avoid reheating*

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