Which foods should I avoid during pregnancy?

What foods should I avoid for a safe pregnancy?
Content supplied by NHS Choices

There are some foods you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy because they could:

  • cause food poisoning, or
  • harm your unborn baby


Don’t eat mould-ripened soft cheese, such as brie or camembert. You should also avoid soft blue-veined cheese, such as stilton or Danish blue.

Cheeses like this can contain listeria, a bacteria that causes listeriosis. This can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.


Don’t eat raw or undercooked eggs and avoid foods that contain them, such as homemade mayonnaise.

Make sure that eggs are thoroughly cooked until the whites and yolks are solid. This prevents the risk of salmonella food poisoning.


Don’t drink raw (unpasteurised) milk, including unpasteurised goats’ or sheep’s milk. Don’t eat food that is made out of them, such as soft goats’ cheese.

If only raw or green-top milk is available, boil it first.


Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâtés, as they can contain listeria.


Don’t eat raw or undercooked meat.

Cook all meat and poultry thoroughly so there’s no trace of pink or blood. Take particular care with sausages and minced meat.


Don’t eat liver or liver products, such as liver pâté or liver sausage, as they may contain a lot of vitamin A. Too much vitamin A can harm your baby.

Vitamin A

Don’t take:

  • high-dose multivitamin supplements
  • fish liver oil supplements
  • any supplements containing vitamin A


There are some types of fish you should limit, such as tuna and oily fish, and some types of fish you should avoid completely, such as shark.

Also, don’t eat raw shellfish, as it can cause food poisoning.


Avoid drinking alcohol if you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant. Too much exposure to alcohol can seriously affect your baby’s development. For more information, see Can I drink alcohol if I’m pregnant?


Don’t have more than 200mg of caffeine a day. High levels of caffeine can cause babies to have a low birth weight. Too much caffeine can also cause a miscarriage. Caffeine is found naturally in some foods and is added to some soft drinks. For more information, see Should I limit caffeine during pregnancy?


Wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasma is also found in the following foods, so avoid eating:

  • undercooked or raw meat
  • raw cured meat, such as salami and parma ham (prosciutto)


NHS Choices

Published Date 2011-04-13

Last Review Date 2011-04-05

Flickr: Glenn Loos-Austin

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