Most women find that the moment they know they are pregnant they instantly start being more careful about their food; what’s nutritious, what’s fattening, what’s safe to eat?
Of course we should all be eating healthily whether we are pregnant or not, but the presence of a tiny, dependent baby relying on us to feed them all the necessary vitamins and minerals and keep them safe from nasty bacteria and parasites quite rightly makes a women more concerned about pregnancy food facts.
And it’s not just where foods have come from that you have to think about… food preparation is every bit as important. How clean is your chopping board? The cloth you wipe down your kitchen surfaces with? Did you wash your hands after playing with the cat and grabbing that apple from the fruit bowl?
Here are some basic pregnancy food facts to help you know what’s safe to eat:
1. If in doubt throw it out. This is no time to take chances with sell by and use by dates.
2. Wash your hands before handling any food. If you wear rubber gloves to handle food make sure you wash these regularly too.
3. Disinfect your counter tops and sink, scrub your chopping board and wash it in the dishwasher regularly.
4. If you buy a jar and it doesn’t “pop” when opening it, take it back to the shop or throw it away, it may be leaky.
5. Have separate chopping boards for veg, meat and poultry and bread (you can buy colour coded ones to prevent confusion).
6. Wash and replace dishcloths and sponges regularly. You can temporarily sterilise damp cloths in the microwave.
7. Refrigerate leftovers quickly and always thoroughly re-heat.
8. Never eat frozen foods that have defrosted then been frozen again.
9. Keep your fridge at 5ËC or lower.
10. Marinate foods in the fridge, not in the warm kitchen and discard the marinade afterwards (if you want it as a sauce, keep aside a portion of the marinade before adding the meat, chicken or fish).
11. Always cook food thoroughly. Pregnancy is not a time to eat rare meat or fish.
12. Avoid raw eggs or mixes with raw eggs (homemade mayonnaise, cake mix etc). Pasteurised eggs are safe as pasteurising kills bacteria.
13. Wash all fruit and veg before eating – even those that claim to be pre-washed. Dirt on veg could put you at risk from toxoplasmosis.
14. Soft cheeses are almost always made with unpasteurised milk and should be avoided as a risk of listeria. Cheese made from pasteurised milk is fine – except for any labelled as made from raw milk.
15. Deli meats and cold smoked seafood can be contaminated and should only be eaten if cooked to piping hot (in a casserole or oven-cooked seafood dish for example).
16. Shop-bought fruit juice should be pasteurised.
17. Don’t eat out anywhere you think could have low hygiene standards.