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Four Steps to Food Safety for Pregnant Women
During pregnancy, food safety is more important than ever because you and your unborn baby are at an increased risk of foodborne illness. Your immune system is weakened, making it harder to fight off infections and leaving you vulnerable to serious health problems. Your unborn baby's immune system is also not developed enough to fight off harmful foodborne bacteria.
It is estimated that there are approximately 4 million cases of foodborne illness in Canada every year. It’s especially important for pregnant women to pay attention to food safety.
What you should do
You can protect yourself and your unborn baby from food poisoning by following four key steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.
- Clean: Wash your hands and surfaces often with warm, soapy water.
- Separate: Make sure to always separate raw foods, such as meat and eggs, from cooked foods and vegetables.
- Cook: Always cook food to the safe internal temperature. You can check this by using a digital food thermometer.
- Chill: Always refrigerate food and leftovers promptly at 4°C or below.
What you eat is important
Some foods carry a higher risk for foodborne illness than others for pregnant women.
Here is a list of tips, including foods to avoid:
- Make sure to cook hot dogs and deli meats until they are steaming hot before eating them.
- Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat, poultry and seafood.
- Avoid refrigerated smoked seafood.
- Avoid unpasteurized juice, cider and dairy products.
- Avoid soft and semi-soft cheeses.
- Avoid refrigerated pâtés and meat spreads.
- Avoid uncooked foods made from raw or unpasteurized eggs.
- Avoid raw sprouts.
Please visit the Healthy Canadian’s website for a more detailed list of foods to avoid and safer food alternatives while pregnant.
For more information on food safety for pregnant women, please visit:
- Healthy Canadians website: Food Safety for Pregnant Women
- Public Health Agency of Canada: Estimates of Food-borne Illness in Canada and Food Safety
- Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education – Be Food Safe
Stay connected with Health Canada, and receive the latest advisories and product recalls using social media tools.
Courtesy of Health Canada.