Food Safety and Pregnancy

food and pregnancyFood safety is important for everyone. But, there are a couple of important considerations when you are pregnant. Your immune system changes during pregnancy making you and your unborn child at higher risk for a foodborne illness.

Pathogens which are a Potential Risk during Pregnancy

PATHOGEN: Listeria Monocytogenes


A bacterium found in many foods which can grow at refrigerator temperatures.

Can cause miscarriage, serious illness or even death of a newborn.


  • unpasteurized (raw) milk
  • luncheon meats
  • store made ham salad, chicken salad and seafood salad
  • uncooked hot dogs

PATHOGEN: Toxoplasma Gondo


A parasite found in dirty cat litter boxes.

Can cause hearing loss, mental retardation or blindness in an unborn child.


  • Accidental contact of cat feces and then touching food
  • Raw or undercooked meat

During pregnancy make a special effort to protect yourself and your unborn child by selecting and preparing food carefully and following good hand washing procedures.  Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

FDA, Food Safety: It’s Especially Important to You, updated 12/18/2014.

Author: Linnette Goard, Field Specialist, Food Safety, Selection, and Management, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,

Reviewer: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension,

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