Food Safety Tips: Foods to Avoid While Pregnant
With food poisoning cases on the rise in the United States, due to several outbreaks, including the red onion Salmonella outbreak and the peach Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak, it is important to remain vigilant about food safety, especially for pregnant women. A food poisoning infection while pregnant can result in serious injury, possibly leading to birth defects or even the loss of the fetus. Food borne illness causing bacteria, such as Listeria, E. Coli, Campylobacter, and Salmonella, can be potentially avoided by refraining from consuming food that is more at risk to contain the bacteria. The bacteria Listeria, which causes the infection listeriosis, is transmitted through soil and water to various foods, such as vegetables, animals, unpasteurized foods, and processed “ready to eat” foods. The bacteria Salmonella and E. Coli, which causes the infection Salmonellosis and Shiga toxin-producing E. Coli (STEC) infection, is transmitted through consuming contaminated food, such as poultry and raw or undercooked meat. While all of these food poisoning infections can result in serious harm for anyone, pregnant women are in a high risk group and thus, should avoid risky foods all together.
While other food borne illness causing infections are dangerous for pregnant women, the most notable and alarming is listeriosis, caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. According to the FDA, listeriosis in pregnant women often presents as flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. According to listeria lawyer Ron Simon, its even worse as pregnant women are 10 times more likely to be infected with listeriosis than anyone else and the infection often results in a severe infection in the fetus and even the loss of the fetus. Other infections, such as meningitis, which causes swelling in the brain and spinal chord, are common effects of listeriosis in pregnant women. Symptoms of listeriosis typically develop 1 to 4 weeks after consumption, though cases have presented symptoms as early as one day and as late as 70 days after exposure.
Experts agree that anyone who believes they are suffering from Listeriosis, especially is pregnant, should contact a physician immediately for the best course of treatment.
For listeriosis in pregnant women, prevention is key. To prevent listeriosis and other food borne illnesses, a variety of meats, cheeses, and seafood dishes should be avoided. Meat such as hot dogs, deli meat, and luncheon meat should be avoided unless heated to high temperatures, in order to kill potential bacteria. Refrigerated pâtés and meat spreads should not be consumed as they may be harboring bacteria. Unless heated to high enough temperatures to kill bacteria, seafood dishes, including sushi, and smoked seafood, should not be consumed while pregnant. Raw milk that has not been pasteurized should also be avoided, as it has not been treated to avoid food borne illness causing bacteria. Soft cheeses, unless labeled with pasteurized milk, should not be consumed, including “queso fresco”, feta, and brie. Effectively, foods that have been thoroughly cooked at high enough temperatures to kill bacteria are often much safer for pregnant women.