Foods and Toxins To Avoid /

Checklist: Foods to Avoid In Pregnancy

01 In Brief

As pregnancy lowers your immunity, you and your unborn baby are more susceptible to infections from bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause food borne illness. Even though you may not develop any symptoms with an infection, some micro-organisms can cause serious problems in your unborn child. Your baby is also more sensitive to toxins in the food we eat. There's quite a lot to take in and remember, so here we have provided a summarised chart that flags high-risk foods and suggests safe solutions on how to cook and eat them. You can print it off as a handy pocket-size guide to take shopping with you.


02 What Do I Need To Know?

Try to avoid or take special care with these foods

What is the risk?

How do I manage this food group?

Meat: beef, veal, lamb and pork including mincemeat - take care
Undercooked meat may contain e.coli
Cook all meat to 71-75 degrees Celsius.
Pre-cooked meat products such as hamburgers, sausages, cold meat cuts, hot dogs, and other delicatessen meat and poultry - take care
May contain listeria
Even if the label says it has been pre-cooked, reheat these meats to steaming hot or 71 degrees Celsius before eating.
Pate and meat spreads - avoid
Unpasteurised refrigerated pates or meat spreads may contain listeria

Eat only canned versions and check they have been pasteurised.

Limit intake of liver products because of the high level of Vitamin A.

Certain types of fish such as shark, marlin and swordfish avoid and modify intake of other types of fish
Contain high levels of mercury

Limit to one serve per fortnight and no other fish

Shark, marlin and swordfish.

Limit to one serve per week and no other fish

Orange roughy, catfish.

Other wise 2-3 serves per week is OK. One serve = 150gm

Raw or undercooked fish such as sushi, uncooked smoked fish - avoid
May contain parasites or bacteria Cook fish to 63 degrees Celsius and maintain for at least 15 seconds. Always check the temperature in the thickest piece of fish.
Pre-prepared salads such as ham, chicken or seafood and fruit salads or smorgasbords - avoid May contain listeria
Make salads at home and practice safe food preparation.
Raw or undercooked sprouts such as alfalfa, mung and radish and raw salad components such as lettuce, tomatoes and melons - take care

May contain salmonella and e.coli
Cook sprouts thoroughly.
Fruit (especially melons) and vegetables - take care May contain salmonella and e.coli Wash and dry thoroughly before eating.
Unpasteurised juice or cider - avoid
May contain e.coli
Drink pasteurised juice. Bring any unpasteurised juice or cider to a rolling boil for a least a minute before drinking.
DAIRY and EGGS    

Soft cheeses such as Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort or soft blue veined cheese - avoid

Special note about Roquefort cheese:

Roquefort cheese produced in Australai must be heat treated. In France it is manufactured under stringent conditions. However it is still advised that pregnant women avoid eating it because it is made from unpasteurised sheep's milk.

May contain e.coli  or listeria 

Eat hard cheese such as Cheddar or Swiss or check the label and make sure that the cheese has been made from pasteurised milk.

Unpasteurised milk - avoid
May contain bacteria such as campylobacter. e.coli, listeria or salmonella
Drink only pasteurised milk.

Raw biscuit or cake mix containing eggs - avoid

May contain salmonella

Cook the biscuits or cake before eating and don't be tempted to lick the spoon!


Eggs and unpasteurised egg products, including mayonnaise - take care

Undercooked eggs may contain salmonella

Cook eggs until the yolks are firm. Any other dishes containing egg cook to 71-75 degrees Celsius.

Eggnog - avoid 

Homemade eggnog contains uncooked eggs, which may contain salmonella

Buy pasteurised eggnog or use a pasteurised egg product.

Ice cream - avoid

Homemade ice cream may contain uncooked eggs, which may contain salmonella

Never eat soft serve ice cream.

Make ice cream with a pasteurised egg product or alternatives recipes that do not include eggs.


Caffeine containing foods and drink such as coffee, tea chocolate and soft drinks - take care

Low birth weight and miscarrige

No more than 200mg caffeine per day equivalent to:

Two cups of instant coffee

One mug of filtered coffee

Two mugs of tea

Five cans of regular cola

Four  50gm bars of plain chocolate

Untreated water - avoid
May contain bacteria 
Always drink treated water and if unsure drink bottled water.
Alcohol - take care
May cause birth defects and neurological abnormalities

Preferably avoid alcohol altogether.

If you choose to drink limit it to 1-2 standard drinks, 1-2 times per week.

03 What Others Say

  • NSW Food Authority fact sheet - a good summary of the issues and hints on safe food preparation.

Pregnancy and food safety

  • NSW Food Authority has excellent fact sheets about food safety.

Keeping Food Safe

Cooking correctly: cooking temperatures and how to use a food thermometer


  • Australian government website has published a guide to safe consumption of alcohol and standard drink information.

Standard drinks guide 

04 I Want To Know More

US website National Digestive Disease Information Clearing House (NDDIC) provides hints on safe food preparation. Please note that temperatures are quoted in degrees Fahrenheit rather than Celsius.

Bacteria and Food-Borne Illnesses

05 Clinicians Tools and Resources

Add your Tools And Resources content here!

The information published here has been reviewed by Flourish Paediatrics and represents the available published literature at the time of review.
The information is not intended to take the place of medical advice.
Please seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional.
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Last updated: 13/07/2011 by Dr Elizabeth Hallam*Claire Galea