What specific foods should I avoid if I am pregnant?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy because they contain substances or microorganisms that can cause problems.
  • unpasturized milk and dairy products, including soft cheeses such as feta and blue cheeses
  • unpasturized juices
  • foods high in salt, especially processed foods
  • undercooked meat, fish, and eggs
  • seafood that may have high mercury levels such as swordfish
  • shellfish
  • fish from polluted waters
  • unwashed vegetables and fruits
You should ask your health care provider for a comprehensive list of foods to avoid. This list will probably include: Seafood with high levels of mercury (such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, and possibly tuna); Undercooked meat, poultry or eggs; Unpasteurized milk products (Brie, Feta, Camembert, Blue cheese, Mexican-style cheeses, such as queso blanco, queso fresco and panela unless otherwise labeled); Also wash all foods well to make sure they are clear of any lingering bacteria, or pesticides and herbicides, and keep foods at their designated temperatures (i.e. cold foods cold and hot foods hot).
Melissa Joy Dobbins
Nutrition & Dietetics
Certain foods should be avoided during pregnancy:

Fish that contains high levels of mercury such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel or tilefish should be avoided altogether. Albacore tuna should be limited to 6 ounces per week. Common types of fish that are lower in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock and catfish. You can eat up to 12 ounces of these fish per week while you are pregnant.

Foods that may contain the bacteria Listeria such as:
  • unpasteurized ("raw") milk or foods made with unpasteurized/raw milk including any unpasteurized soft cheeses such as blue, brie, goat or feta, queso blanco or fresco
  • raw or undercooked meat, poultry or shellfish
  • prepared meats such as lunchmeats and hot dogs (unless they are reheated until steaming hot)
  • other refrigerated, ready-to-eat foods such as chicken salad, egg salad, meat spreads or smoked seafood

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.