What Cheeses Are Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
It’s true that certain cheeses are off-limits when you’re pregnant, but the great news is that there are still lots of delicious cheeses that you can continue to enjoy throughout your pregnancy. In fact, eating cheese and other dairy products whilst you’re expecting is to be encouraged. This is because they contain a lot of the vital nutrients that support your baby’s growth and development, including protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. So please don’t stop eating your cheese on toast and carry on sprinkling parmesan on your spag bol!
But there are some cheeses that you must avoid until after the birth of your baby. This is because some cheeses can contain listeria, a bacteria which can cause a type of food poisoning called listeriosis. Unfortunately, the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy can compromise your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to developing listeriosis, which can cause serious complications and even miscarriage and still birth.
For info, the symptoms of listeriosis include fever and chills, aches and pains, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. If you have any of these symptoms during pregnancy, you should seek out the advice of a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
Please note that listeriosis is a rare condition, so try not to worry if you’ve already eaten cheese that may not be safe. The risk to you and your baby is low. Just stick to safe cheese in the future, to protect you and your baby.
So, let’s start with the cheese you can eat when you’re pregnant.
- All hard cheeses, such as cheddar, stilton and parmesan, even those made from unpasteurised milk are safe. This is because they are quite acidic and have a low water content, which means they are unlikely to contain the listeria bacteria. Some other examples of safe hard cheeses include: Double Gloucester, Red Leicester, Emmental, Comté, Gruyere, Manchego and Jarsberg.
- Soft cheeses made from pasteurised milk, including mozzarella, cottage cheese, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi. Soft goat’s & sheep’s cheese are also safe, but only the ones without a white coating/rind on the outside.
- Soft unpasteurised cheese that’s been thoroughly cooked until it’s steaming hot
- Soft cheese with a white coating/rind on the outside that’s been thoroughly cooked until it’s steaming hot.
- Soft blue cheese that’s been thoroughly cooked until it’s steaming hot.
If you’re unsure whether a particular cheese is made from pasteurised or unpasteurised milk, you can check the packaging, or ask your cheesemonger.
What Cheese Should You Avoid During Pregnancy?
In the following section we have listed the cheeses you should avoid whist you're expecting:
- Unfortunately all those delicious mould-ripened soft cheeses that have a white coating/rind on the outside are not allowed. This is because soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside contain more moisture. This means that cheeses such as brie, Camembert, chevre, and Delice de Bourgogne are all off the menu, unless of course they’re thoroughly cooked until steaming hot. So at least you can still enjoy a baked camembert – yay!
- Soft blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola, Roquefort and Montagnolo Affine, unless they’re thoroughly cooked until steaming hot.
- Washed-rind cheeses such as Epoisse, Merry Wyfe, Taleggio and Raclette, unless they’re thoroughly cooked until steaming hot.
Once you’ve had your baby, you can go back to eating whatever cheese you like. Even if you’re breastfeeding, you don’t need to avoid any particular cheeses. Unless of course, your baby suffers from a cow’s milk allergy or intolerance.
If you know someone who’s pregnant or even if want to treat yourself to a safe cheesy indulgence, why not take a look at the following gift hampers for pregnant ladies and new mums:
Just so you know…we may know a fair bit about cheese, but we’re not medically trained. So when writing this blog we referred to the NHS website, which offers excellent advice on lots of health-related subjects. Just click here for a link to the relevant webpage.