Confused Moms to Be

When I was pregnant with Sorenne in the summer of 2008, we spent a month in Canada while the Maple Leaf Listeria outbreak was, in retrospect, percolating in cold-cuts that were being consumed across the country.

If I hadn’t been informed by my food safety guru husband, I could have very easily consumed ready-to-eat deli meat on our car trip north, potentially putting my baby at risk. Sorenne turned out healthy, huge and wonderful. And we are thankful every day.

Several of my former students, friends, and family members are pregnant right now, and somehow I’ve become the expert on food safety during pregnancy. These women have expressed frustration and confusion about the conflicting information they read and receive from their doctors regarding what they can and cannot eat during pregnancy. While I generally think moderation and eliminating stress are priorities, there are a few food safety concerns that are definitely worth considering. I’ve already written on “What you can and cannot eat during pregnancy,” but in light of major outbreaks (and this is barfblog, of the 4 Rs), the information bears repeating.

Pregnant women should avoid:

       ready to eat refrigerated foods such as deli meats, smoked fish, hot dogs, sausages, pâté, and the like. If the food is shelf-stable (canned), it should be ok. Unfortunately, it was impossible to find canned pâté in Manhattan, KS during my pregnancy – but now it’s available at Hyvee.

       soft-serve ice-cream which has been suspected as a listeria risk

       soft cheeses (brie, camembert – pasteurized or not) and we are uncertain about blue-veined cheeses (I toasted or melted my cheese to alleviate my fears. Now this seems laughable since I’m not eating any dairy while I breastfeed.)

       and sprouts because they have been identified as a source of listeria and other pathogens.

Listeria is one of the main food safety concerns during pregnancy because it causes a high rate of miscarriage and stillbirths.

For further reading, consult the Bad bug book, and the CDC’s excellent site