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Foods Not to Eat When Pregnant

Updated on March 3, 2014

Since your immune system is compromised when pregnant both you and your baby are susceptible to infections, viruses and bacteria. It is good to know which foods to avoid while pregnant. Can you eat caesar salad, shrimp or crab while pregnant? These are the questions we will address here.

There are certain foods to avoid while pregnant, foods that could contain bacteria and pollutants. It is important to take safety precautions when it comes to your diet when you are pregnant; what you eat and how you prepare your food becomes particularly important.

So, let's explore.


Can You Eat Caesar Salad When Pregnant?

The answer to this is that you should be very careful. Many restaurants prepare their caesar dressing using raw eggs, and raw foods derived from animals are a big no-no during pregnancy. Such foods can contain bacteria, viruses and parasites and bring with them foodborne illness that could endanger you and your baby.

All animal products should be cooked thoroughly. You should not eat any rare meat, raw oysters or clams; avoid sushi, raw cookie dough or cake dough; do not eat unpasteurized eggs and do not drink eggnog.

These things could carry salmonella and should be avoided entirely.

In fact, unpasteurized dairy products should be avoided generally. This means no soft cheeses like brie, feta or roguefort. Instead you can have hard cheeses like cheddar and swiss.

These unpasteurized dairy products, along with lunch meat and hot dogs, can carry Listeria monocytogenes which are bacteria that cause listeriosis which can cause miscarriages, stillbirth and other health problems. Hot dogs and lunch meats can only be eaten if cooked thoroughly, until steaming hot. Also avoid unpasteurized juices. And salads made at the store should not be eaten, such as ham salad, seafood salad and chicken salad; they could contain listeria as well.

The shellfish mentioned, such as clams and oysters could contain Vibrio bacteria and should never be eaten raw; they should be cooked to 145 degrees F.

And while we are talking about raw foods, it is important to remember not to eat raw sprouts. They too should be cooked thoroughly to kill any bacteria such as e coli and salmonella that are often found in sprouts.

Other meat products to avoid are pates and meat spreads.


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Can I Eat Shrimp and Crab While Pregnant?

Seafood is also a major issue as far as your diet goes when you're pregnant. The big fish like shark, swordfish, tile-fish and king mackerel should not be eaten when you are pregnant. These fish are likely exposed to and contain mercury, due to industrial pollution, and so could cause problems for your baby's brain and nervous system development.

However, shrimp has lower incidence of mercury and so is safe if cooked thoroughly and you restrict intake to no more than 12 ounces a week. Crab is very low in mercury and also can be eaten in the quantity of 12 ounces in a week.

You can have 6 ounces a week of canned light tuna too. Remember the 12 ounce limit on the seafood that you can eat during pregnancy means total. You can only have a total of 12 ounces altogether, so that 6 ounces of tuna is part of the 12 ounce weekly total.

It should be noted too that white albacore tuna should be avoided because it has higher levels of mercury.

Other fish that can be included in the 12 ounce a week limit of seafood include salmon, pollack, sardines, talapia and catfish.

Also do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood often labeled "nova-style", "lox", "kippered", "smoked" and "jerky" often made from salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna and mackerel. Unless these are included in a dish that's thoroughly cooked, you should totally avoid them.

Of course, sushi, which contains raw fish, should be avoided entirely.


When pregnant avoid:

  • rare and uncooked meats and fish and other animal products
  • unpasteurized dairy products and juices
  • big fish which contain mercury
  • refrigerated smoked fish

So, as we can see, foods in danger of carrying bacteria and chemical pollutants should be avoided. Raw meats and fish, plus certain kinds of seafood, have this danger and should be avoided. All foods should be cooked thoroughly. All animal products should never be eaten raw and this includes raw eggs found in such things as caesar salad dressing, raw cookie dough and raw cake dough, and egg nog. You should avoid unpasteurized products including juices and dairy products that are unpasteurized like soft cheeses.

It is important that you and your baby are taken care of with a healthy diet that will not further weaken your immune system and lead to medical complications. Being vigilant about what you eat is paramount and just a matter of being conscientious and aware.

What Not to Eat While Pregnant


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