Pregnancy is a new and exciting adventure for women around the world. But pregnancy also comes with a lot of questions, leaving women questioning every bite of food they take. Rumors surround pregnant women, friends, and family all have their own different experiences and now spread helpful and unhelpful advice to you. The struggle is figuring out which rumors are true, and which rumors are false so that you can make the right decision. So, let’s get started with the topic Can I Eat Feta While Pregnant?
I have several pregnant friends, and one of the biggest topics of discussion is cheese. There are so many varieties of cheeses that it’s hard to know which ones are safe for expecting mothers and which aren’t. The good news is, that cheese is filled with calcium and protein, both of which are essential in growing a happy and healthy baby. But are all cheeses good for pregnant women? What about eating Greek salads with feta cheese? Can I eat feta while pregnant?
Feta Cheese and Pregnancy
Feta cheese is a type of soft cheese that can be made from pasteurized or unpasteurized milk. Soft cheese like feta cheese is a tricky topic because soft cheeses can be made with unpasteurized milk which should not be consumed by pregnant women.
Soft, unpasteurized cheeses can contain a dangerous bacteria called Listeria. Listeria has been known to cause flu-like symptoms and can be fatal to unborn babies. However, feta cheese isn’t the only type of cheese that could contain Listeria. Other soft cheeses like Brie, goat, and Camembert are at risk of containing harmful bacteria.
Listeria can cause you to contract Listeriosis, an infection that can cause pregnant women to have a miscarriage, premature labor, or death of a newborn. Listeria is not odorous, so you won’t be able to smell the cheese and know if it’s safe or not.
How To Eat Feta Cheese While Pregnant
If you plan on making a meal that uses feta cheese, make sure to buy feta cheese that contains pasteurized milk. During the pasteurization process, all harmful bacteria (including Listeria) will be eliminated, making it safe for consumption by pregnant women.
If you don’t have pasteurized feta cheese, it is possible to safely prepare and cook the cheese yourself. According to the Ohio State University, if a dish that contains unpasteurized cheese is cooked at a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 2 minutes, the heat will kill any toxic bacteria, including Listeria.
When you make a meal using unpasteurized feta cheese, you can easily check the temperature of your dish by using a meat thermometer. Place the thermometer in at least three of the thickest sections of the dish. If your dish meets the standards mentioned above, it can safely be eaten by pregnant women.
The good news is, that unpasteurized feta cheese is rarely sold in the grocery store. Most producers choose to use pasteurized milk, and even imported feta cheese usually is made with pasteurized milk. Therefore, your chances of accidentally eating unpasteurized feta cheese are very unlikely.
If you are traveling abroad or order a meal from a restaurant that includes feta cheese; the safest option is to choose a meal that includes baked feta cheese. By doing so, you are guaranteeing that the feta has already been heated up and most likely killed off any harmful bacteria.
Can You Eat Goats’ Cheese While Pregnant?
Most goat cheese is safe for pregnant women. Soft goat cheese that has been pasteurized and hard goat cheese is generally safe for pregnant women. The only exception is goat cheeses that have been surface-ripened, these types of cheeses should be avoided by pregnant women.
When Should Pregnant Women Avoid Eating Feta Cheese?
As I said above, pasteurized feta cheese is usually considered safe for pregnant women. However, many doctors recommend in the response to can I Eat Feta While Pregnant? that pregnant women avoid feta cheese if they are not absolutely certain that the factory that produces the cheese meets all sanitary regulations. If you purchase feta cheese produced in a factory that does not follow sanitation rules; pasteurized cheese can still become contaminated with other dangerous bacteria produced in the factory.
Additionally, bacteria like Listeria are especially dangerous for women in their first trimester. During the first trimester, unborn babies are extremely susceptible to infections and diseases. These types of bacteria are also dangerous at the end of pregnancy; as infections caused by Listeria can cause premature labor.
How Do You Know If You have Listeria?
Unfortunately, the symptoms of Listeria are very mild and can be similar to that of a common cold. The usual symptoms of Listeria include headaches, fever, and chills. As mentioned before, Listeria can cause premature labor. If you are pregnant and you experience backache, contractions, or discharge/bleeding, seek medical help immediately.
- Hard, pasteurized cheeses such as cheddar and parmesan can be safely eaten by pregnant women.
- Soft, pasteurized cheeses such as feta, mozzarella, goats’ cheese, cream cheese, etc; can also be safely eaten by pregnant women if they are prepared in a factory that follows sanitation regulations.
- It does not matter if the milk came from a cow, goat, or sheep; if the milk is unpasteurized, it is not safe for pregnant women.
Now that you have the facts, you can make your own educated decision on the safety of eating feta cheese while pregnant. Of course, the easiest answer is to say no to all kinds of cheeses. But if you added up all of the foods that pose a risk to pregnant women; you may have a hard time finding something safe to eat.
Whether you enjoy feta sprinkled on your salad or used as a pasta topping; you can rest assured that your feta cheese will be safe to eat – so long as it is pasteurized.
Feta can also be a healthy alternative to other cheeses. Feta is lower in fat than most cheeses; including cheddar is filled with vitamins B12 and B6, and has high Phosphorus and Selenium levels. Subsequently, feta usually has a strong and overpowering flavor, meaning you don’t have to use it as much in your meals!