Pregnant Women and Food Safety

Festive Times

The holiday season is a very exciting time of year filled with parties, family gatherings and lots of food. From turkey and dressing to every type of dessert imaginable, there is never a time of year when food is more of a focus. While it is important that everyone keep food safety in mind during this season, it is especially important for pregnant women to do so.

Pregnant women should keep the following food safety tips in mind as they celebrate the holidays:

Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially when

  • Touching raw meat, raw eggs or unwashed vegetables
  • Preparing food
  • Before eating or drinking
  • Try not to share forks, cups, or food with young children.
  • Wash your hands often when around children. Their saliva and urine might contain a virus that could be harmful for you and your unborn baby.
  • Cook your meat until it’s well done. The best way to tell that food has been cooked is to use a food thermometer.
  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot. These undercooked meats and processed meats might contain harmful bacteria.
  • Avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk and foods made from it. Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, brie, and queso fresco unless they have labels that say they are pasteurized.
  • Unpasteurized products can contain harmful bacteria and can cause infections such as Listeriosis which can be very harmful for both you  the mother and your unborn baby.
  • Be aware of holiday beverages. Watch out for alcohol-containing holiday punches and eggnogs. Avoid eggnog entirely unless you know it was made with pasteurized eggs and contains no alcohol.
  • To learn more about food safety and/or infections during pregnancy contact CDC-INFO at or 1-800-CDC-INFO 24/7. Or, you may visit CDC’s Pregnancy Information gateway or

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