Food Safety is Doubly Important during Pregnancy

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It’s always important to properly prepare and store your food. It is especially important during pregnancy. Pregnant women and their unborn babies are more susceptible than others to food poisoning and other food borne illnesses. This is because your immune system is compromised somewhat while you are pregnant and your baby’s immune system hasn’t fully developed yet.

There are certain types of food which present a significant risk to expectant mothers and their babies. According to information released recently through Canadian health organization Health Canada, these types of food should be avoided during pregnancy:

  • Uncooked or undercooked meat (including seafood and poultry)
  • Undercooked eggs (over easy, sunny side up, soft boiled, etc.)
  • Refrigerated smoked fish or shellfish
  • Unpasteurized dairy products, including milk and cheese
  • Unpasteurized juices or ciders
  • Soft cheese
  • Refrigerated meat spreads
  • Raw sprouts (bean sprouts, clover, radish, alfalfa, etc.)

In addition to avoiding food which may be hazardous, it’s important to always:

  • Cook all foods to the proper temperature. Use a digital thermometer to ensure that meat is completely cooked.
  • Clean hands, utensils, and surfaces which come into contact with food. Make sure to use an antibacterial cleaner.
  • Wash vegetables and fruit.
  • Promptly refrigerate unused food.  Most bacteria which cause food borne illness thrive between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid storing food at room temperatures.
  • Avoid cross contamination. Make sure that you keep food that is ready away from raw food. This is especially important with eggs and meat.

One of the dangers of food poisoning during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, is that its symptoms are very similar to morning sickness. Typical symptoms of food poisoning include nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting. If you aren’t sure whether symptoms you’re experiencing are from morning sickness or food borne illness, it’s best to speak with your health care professional to rule out the possibility of food poisoning.

Recent studies have shown that expectant mothers can pass food borne illnesses on to their babies in the womb. This makes it especially important to be careful about the food you eat during your pregnancy. In light of this, what steps will you take to prevent food contamination?

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