Is it safe to eat cheese during pregnancy?

Pregnancy can bring cravings, some more bizarre than others. If you find yourself yearning for crackers and cheese, do you know which cheeses are safe?

Safe-cheeses

Why is some cheese unsafe?

Cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, which is important during pregnancy. However, some cheese is considered unsafe for pregnant women as it may harm the baby. This is because some cheese are more likely to grow bacteria, such as listeria, which will harm the unborn child.

This bacteria is found in some soft cheeses, even if pasturised, these should still be avoided. This is because they are more acidic and moist than hard cheese – the perfect breeding ground for listeria.

Listeria

Listeria, also known as listeria monocytogenes, is a bacteria which is found in some foods. It can be found in unpasteurised milk and milk products and processed foods which is why it can affect cheeses. If consumed, this bacteria can grow and develop into an illness called listeriosis.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis is an illness which can affect people who suffer from a weakened immune system, including pregnant women. This illness causes flu like symptoms which develop several weeks after initially eating the cheese. A fairly mild illness for you, this can cause miscarriage or death at birth for your unborn child.

Which cheeses are safe?

Hard cheeses are safe to eat whilst pregnant. This list includes the following:

  • Hard Cheeses

Austrian smoked, Babybel, caerphilly, cheddar, cheshire, derby, double gloucester, edam, emmental, english goat’s cheddar, feta (if bought in the UK), gouda, gruyere, halloumi, havarti, jarlsberg, lancashire, mozzarella, orkney, paneer, parmesan, pecorino (hard), provolone, red leicester.

  • Soft and processed cheeses:

Boursin, cottage cheese, cheese spread, cream cheese, mascarpone, Philadelphia, quark, ricotta.

  • Other milk products:

Yoghurts, fromage frais, soured cream and creme fraiche – any variety, including natural, flavoured and biologically active

Which cheeses should I avoid?

Whilst pregnant, you should avoid the following cheeses.

  • Mould-ripened soft cheeses:

Brie, blue brie, cambozola, camembert, chaumes, chevre (goat’s cheese with a white rind), pont l’eveque, taleggio, vacherin-fribourgeois.

  • Blue-veined cheeses:

Bergader, bleu d’auvergne, blue wensleydale, shropshire blue, danish blue, dolcelatte, gorgonzola, roncal, roquefort, stilton, tomme.

  • Soft, unpasteurised cheese:

Goat’s and sheep’s cheeses, chabichou, pyramide, torta del cesar.

Photography: Nate Steiner @Flickr

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