Foods To Avoid When Pregnant

There are certain foods to avoid when pregnant because they are a high risk for food poisoning or because they could harm your baby. It is important to know what these are so that you can protect the precious unborn life growing inside you.


Some foods contain bacteria called Listeria, which can give you a flu-like illness called Listeriosis. If you were to become ill with this it could cause miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in newborn babies. Foods to avoid when pregnant, because they contain Listeria, are:

1. Soft and blue-veined cheeses such as Brie, Camembert and Stilton. There is no risk from hard cheeses like cheddar or from processed cheese.

2. All types of pate including vegetable pate.

3. Some prepared salads like coleslaw and potato salad.

4. Any reheated food unless it is piping hot all the way through.


Too much oily fish can be bad for you and your baby as it contains pollutants. You should limit your intake of oily fish to two portions per week. Examples of oily fish are:

1. Fresh tuna (tinned doesn’t count as oily fish)

2. Mackerel

3. Trout

4. Sardines

Some fish contains high levels of mercury, which can damage your baby’s developing nervous system. These include:

1. Marlin

2. Swordfish

3. Shark

Food Poisoning (Campylobacter and Salmonella)

Food poisoning from Campylobacter can cause miscarriage and premature labour. Salmonella may not harm your baby, but it is still advisable to avoid any food that could give you this.

Campylobacter and Salmonella bacteria can be found in:

1. Raw meat and poultry – make sure any meat you eat is cooked all the way through.

2. Unpasteurised milk and any unpasteurised dairy products.

3. Raw eggs and raw egg products such as homemade mayonnaise. Only eat eggs that are cooked until both yolk and white are solid.

4. Untreated water or contaminated water.

You can also get food poisoning from prawns, which can harm your baby, so it’s best to treat prawns as one of the foods to avoid when pregnant too.


This is an infection that is caused by a parasite that is found in cat poo (so if you have a cat, get your partner to change the litter). It can also be found in raw meat and soil left on vegetables.

Foods to avoid when pregnant because they carry the risk of toxoplasmosis are:

1. Unwashed fruit and veg.

2. Raw or undercooked meat.

3. Cured meat such as Parma ham and salami.

4. Unpasteurised goats milk or goats cheese.

Vitamin A

You do need Vitamin A, but too much of it can harm your baby. Liver contains a lot of Vitamin A so it’s best to avoid it and also liver pate.

Alcohol And Caffeine

As previously mentioned, you will want to limit your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Some feel that one or two units of alcohol per week is ok, however, recent studies in Germany have led experts to believe that even tiny amounts of alcohol can cause defects in your baby, so bear that in mind when you are offered a glass of wine.

You shouldn’t have more than 200mg of caffeine per day, which is about the same as:

1. One mug of filter coffee or two mugs of instant coffee.

2. Two mugs of tea.

3. Five cans of coke.

4. Four bars of chocolate.

You could, of course, try drinking decaffeinated tea and coffee.

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