What Cheeses Can You Eat During Pregnancy? (2022 FDA Advice) (2023)

If you’re wanting to know what cheeses you can eat during pregnancy, we’ve got some great news for you. Actually, your favourite cheese might be safe. Read on to learn about Listeria, what foods are high risk and, most importantly, which cheeses you can eat.

SEE ALSO: The healthiest types of cheese you need in your diet →

Table of Contents Hide

1What can you eat while pregnant?

2Why are some foods not safe to eat when you're pregnant?

3Foods that pregnant women should avoid

4What should you do if you've eaten unsafe cheese?

5Cheese during pregnancy: What's safe to eat

6Is it safe to eat cooked cheese?

7Chart of cheeses in pregnancy

8Conclusion: Most cheeses are safe during pregnancy

9References

What can you eat while pregnant?

Pregnancy is a truly magical phase of your life. And, despite popular belief, you don’t actually have to sacrifice all the foods you love during those 9 months. I’m sure you all know that you should avoid raw meat and raw seafood, but what about cheese?

While there are some cheeses which might be considered unsafe, there are still a very large number (including some which might well be your favourites) that are safe for both you and your baby.

Why are some foods not safe to eat when you're pregnant?

What Cheeses Can You Eat During Pregnancy? (2022 FDA Advice) (1)

Let’s start by introducing the reason why many foods (including some cheeses) have in the past been deemed too risky to eat when you are pregnant.

What is Listeria?

Listeria monocytogenesis a bacterium that can survive and grow on certain high risk foods. In humans, it can cause an infection called Listeriosis and the range of symptoms can include fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhoea. In rare cases, it can cause blood poisoning (septicaemia) and inflammation of the outside of the brain (meningitis).

Symptoms of Listeriosis

The symptoms tend to be mild in most affected people but can be more severe and, sometimes, life-threatening in the elderly, pregnant women (and their unborn babies) and people with a weak immune system.

Foods that pregnant women should avoid

What Cheeses Can You Eat During Pregnancy? (2022 FDA Advice) (2)

So, what are some of those high risk foods than may be contaminated with Listeria? They can include raw seafood and fish, cold meats, pre-packaged fruit and, yes, some cheeses.

Soft white mould cheese and blue cheese

Food safety authorities in Australia, the UK and the USA all agree on the following: pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses with a white mould rind such as Brie, Camembert and matured Chèvre. And also soft blue cheeses such as Danish Blue, Roquefort and Gorgonzola.

The reason for that is that they have a high moisture content and low acidity. That combination provides the perfect environment forListeriato proliferate.

Raw milk cheese

Overall, the authorities in Aus/NZ and the USA advise against the consumption of cheeses that are made with unpasteurised milk. Hence, raw milk Mozzarella and Feta are not recommended during pregnancy.

There is however one caveat to this. FSANZ (Australia & New Zealand) consider matured pressed raw milk cheeses such as Gruyère, Comté, Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) and Pecorino Romano to have an equivalent safety profile to pasteurised matured cheeses.

Should you eat cheese rinds?

Even though the risk of infection is low, Listeriacontamination can also happen during the handling of cheese. As such, it would be advisable to avoid eating the rind of even hard pressed cheeses during those 9 months.

What should you do if you've eaten unsafe cheese?

If you’ve accidentally eaten cheese that’s in the unsafe category, try not to worry too much. Instead, keep an eye out for any of the following symptoms.

At first, you may experience a stomach upset and/or diarrhoea. You should contact your doctor to be on the safe side. A simple blood test can confirm the infection and you may require antibiotics.

Be on the lookout for any flu-like symptoms (fever, muscle aches, etc.). These symptoms are associated with a more serious infection. However, they can take between 1 and 4 weeks to develop. In some cases, people haven’t reported symptoms until 70 days after eating contaminated foods.

Cheese during pregnancy: What's safe to eat

Now that we’ve got the bad stuff out of the way, let’s have a look at the long list of cheeses that are actually safe to eat while you’re pregnant. We’ve broken them down by cheese type for you.

Pasta filata

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Pasta filata cheeses such as Mozzarella, Burrata, Provolone, String Cheese and Caciocavallo are considered to be safe as long as they are made with pasteurised milk.

Given that Mozzarella is America’s favourite cheese, this is great news. Of course, the safety profile of this cheese extends to the traditional Mozzarella di Bufala (buffalo milk) and Fior di Latte (cow milk) versions.

Brined cheeses

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Furthermore, brined cheeses such as Feta, Halloumi and Marinated Goat Cheese are also considered to be safe while you’re pregnant. As was the case with pasta filata cheeses, the health authorities only consider pasteurised versions to be safe to eat during pregnancy.

The first two cheeses mentioned are very popular in salads and in a variety of dishes. We’ll get back to cooking with cheese a little bit later.

Soft rindless cheeses

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Another one of America’s favourites, Monterey Jack, falls under this category. Also, you can add all variants of this cheese to the list of cheeses that can be eaten safely when pregnant. Some examples include Dry Jack and Pepper Jack.

On other type of cheese that falls under this umbrella is young goat’s milk cheeses without a rind.

Pressed cheeses

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Pressed cheeses fall under two categories,pressed cooked and pressed uncooked. Some great examples of the former areParmigiano Reggiano, Gruyère, Comté and Pecorino Romano. As for pressed uncooked cheeses, the category includes the likes of Cheddar, Gouda and Manchego.

All of the cheeses mentioned except for Cheddar and Gouda are exclusively made with raw milk. However, as we mentioned earlier, the health authorities in most countries consider them to be as safe as pasteurised versions.

Is it safe to eat cooked cheese?

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This is where it gets really interesting. Thoroughly cooking any type of cheese until steaming hot will actually destroy any harmful pathogens that may be present in it. Indeed, most harmful bacteria likeListeriado not survive temperatures above 75°C/165°F.

What does all this mean? Well, if you are desperately missing your favourite soft cheese you can actually cook them to render them safer. Cheeses in this category include even unpasteurised ones such as Brie de Meaux, Camembert de Normandie and Mont d’Or.

Chart of cheeses in pregnancy

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Conclusion: Most cheeses are safe during pregnancy

Now that you know what cheeses are safe to eat during pregnancy. Scroll down to find our summary below. Did we leave out one of your favourites? Drop us a comment.

References

All the advice relating to what cheeses you can eat during pregnancy in this article is based on the recommendations by health authorities in Australia, the UK and the USA. If you are unsure about what you can or cannot eat, please consult your doctor.

Australia – FSANZ

United Kingdom – NHS

United Sates of America – FDA

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