Food and Drinks to Avoid while Pregnant & Cooking Reminders

When you're pregnant, certain foods and drinks are typically off-limits. We've included a list here, as well as some helpful information to keep in mind while cooking. Please remember, this information is not intended as personalized medical advice. Any decision you make regarding you or your baby's health and medical treatments should be made with a qualified health provider.


Food and Drinks to Avoid

According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, foodborne illnesses (e.g. Listeria, E.coli, Salmonella, etc.) can put pregnant women and unborn babies at risk. The following foods should be avoided during pregnancy.

  • Raw fish (sushi, sashimi, raw oysters/clams/scallops, ceviche)

  • Smoked seafood (salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, mackerel, which are often labeled as "Nova-style", "Lox", "Kippered", 'Smoked" or "Jerky")

  • Raw milk soft cheeses (e.g. brie, feta, camembert, roquefort, queso blanco, queso fresco)

  • Uncooked/undercooked eggs (over easy/medium eggs, eggs benedict, raw batter or dough, homemade caesar salad dressing, tiramisu, homemade hollandaise sauce)

  • Pre-made Meat or Seafood Salads (e.g. prepackaged chicken or seafood salad)

  • Raw Sprouts

  • Undercooked Meat and Poultry

  • Hot Dogs

  • Lunch (deli) meats

  • Cold cuts

  • Fermented or dry sausage

  • Refrigerated meat spreads, pâtés

  • Fish with high mercury levels (King mackerel, marlin, orang roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, albacore/yellowfin/bigeye tuna)

  • Avoid unpasteurized Juice or Cider (including fresh-squeezed juice), unless you bring it to a rolling boil and then boil it for at least one minute before drinking.

  • Raw milk

  • Drinks with raw egg (homemade eggnog)

  • Alcohol

Food Preparation & Cooking Reminders

If you still have the energy to grocery shop (hello Instacart!) and cook while pregnant, you're an all-star in our book. Just keep these protocols in mind, recommended by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and USDA.

  • Keep your refrigerator temperature to 40 degrees F or below and your freezer to 0 degrees F or below. Use an appliance thermometer if your appliances don't have digital thermometers.

  • Store raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a sealed container or securely wrapped while in the refrigerator or freezer.

Wash, Wash, & Wash Again

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds! All.the.time. It's good practice for the fourth trimester when you spend a good portion of your day washing and re-washing your hands.

  • Wash all fresh fruits and veggies including salads.

  • Wash everything that comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, unwashed fruits/vegetables, flour and raw dough (e.g. dishes, counters, utensils, cutting boards, food thermometer, etc.).

Cooking Temperatures

  • Always use a food thermometer to make sure whatever you cook has reached a minimum safe internal temperature, which varies based on the food. When using a food thermometer, put it into the thickest part of the food (avoiding bone, fat, and gristle). Check the temperature closer to the end of cooking, but before you think it's done.

  • Eggs: For a dish that contains eggs, cook it to an internal temperature of 160°F. It's also best to skip over-easy and over-medium eggs during pregnancy in favor of scrambled or over hard.

  • Fish and Shellfish: Cook to an internal temperature of 145°F.

  • Smoked seafood: This can be eaten if it's canned, shelf-stable, or if it is an ingredient in a dish that was cooked to 165°F.

  • Sprouts: cook thoroughly.

  • All Poultry (including ground turkey and chicken): Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F.

  • Leftovers & Casseroles: Cook to an internal temperature of 165°F.

  • Meat: The CDC recommends freezing meat for a few days at sub-zero temperatures before cooking and always cooking it to the USDA-recommended minimum safe internal temperature in order to reduce the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis.

  • The internal temperature for cooking meats such as beef, veal, lamb, and pork can vary based on the cut and the amount of rest time (the amount of time the food remains at the final temperature, after removing it from the grill, oven, etc).

  • The USDA recommends that beef, pork, veal, lamb, steaks, chops, and roasts should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F with at least three minutes of rest time.

  • Ground Meat: Cook to an internal temperature of 160°F (excluding ground poultry).

  • Ham (fresh or smoked): Cook to an internal temperature of 145 with at least three minutes of rest time.

  • Hot Dogs, Lunch Meats, and Deli Meats: in order to reduce the risk of Listeria, reheat them to 165°F, which is steaming hot, before eating.

  • Print or take a screenshot of the safe cooking temperatures in this PDF chart from Foodsafety.gov.