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How can I prevent listeriosis infection during pregnancy?

Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely to get listeriosis from food than women who aren't pregnant. This can be dangerous to the fetus. The following foods should be avoided by pregnant women in order to reduce the risk of listeriosis:
  • Hot dogs, lunch meat and deli meats, unless reheated until steaming hot
  • Soft cheeses such as feta, Brie and Camembert; blue-veined cheeses; and Mexican-style cheeses such as "quesoblanco fresco" (cream cheese, cottage cheese, mozzarella and pasteurized cheese spreads are fine)
  • Smoked seafood (such as smoked salmon) unless it is recooked
  • Pâté (even if refrigerated)
  • Raw milk or any other unpasteurized milk

Listeriosis can be prevented by learning what foods to avoid and how to safely prepare and store food. Recommendations for pregnant women and others who are especially susceptible, such as persons with weakened immune systems and older adults, include:

  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they have been heated or reheated until steaming hot,
  • Avoid getting the fluid from deli meats or hot dog packages on other foods or food preparation surfaces. Wash hands after handling delicatessen meats and hot dogs.
  • Do not eat soft cheeses unless they are labeled as made with pasteurized milk,
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk or other products made from raw milk,
  • Do not eat refrigerated pates and meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store, and
  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is a canned or shelf-stable product.

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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.