7 Safe & 8 Unsafe Cheese Consumption During Pregnancy

by Ella

Pregnancy is a transformative journey marked by numerous considerations, and one of the key aspects is maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. While certain soft cheeses pose risks due to potential bacterial contamination, there are numerous safe and nutritious options for expectant mothers to enjoy. In this in-depth guide, we will explore the world of cheeses that are safe to eat during pregnancy, providing a detailed overview of their nutritional benefits and offering practical tips to enhance maternal well-being.

The Importance of a Balanced Diet During Pregnancy

Before delving into the specifics of safe cheese consumption, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of a well-rounded and nutritionally sound diet during pregnancy. A diverse array of nutrients, including folic acid, calcium, iron, and protein, is crucial for the development of the baby and the well-being of the mother. Cheese, a versatile and flavorful food, can contribute to meeting these nutritional needs when chosen wisely.


Understanding the Safety of Cheese During Pregnancy

Cheese is a rich source of various nutrients, including calcium and protein, making it an appealing addition to a pregnant woman’s diet. However, certain types of cheese, particularly soft varieties, may harbor bacteria like Listeria, which can pose risks to the pregnancy. To ensure the safety of cheese consumption, it’s essential for expectant mothers to be aware of the types of cheese that are considered safe during pregnancy.


Safe Cheese Options During Pregnancy

1. Hard Cheeses:

Hard cheeses are generally considered safe for consumption during pregnancy. These cheeses undergo a longer aging process and have lower water content, which makes them less conducive to bacterial growth. Popular hard cheeses that are safe for pregnant women include:








2. Processed Cheeses:

Processed cheese products, such as cheese slices and spreads, are typically made from pasteurized milk. Pasteurization is a heat treatment process that eliminates harmful bacteria, including Listeria. Pregnant women can confidently incorporate processed cheeses into their diet, enjoying the convenience and variety they offer.

3. Mozzarella:

Whether it’s fresh mozzarella or part-skim mozzarella, these cheeses are generally safe for pregnant women. Mozzarella undergoes a mild pasteurization process, ensuring the elimination of harmful bacteria while providing a versatile and delicious option for salads, pizzas, and sandwiches.

4. Cottage Cheese:

Cottage cheese is a nutritious choice for expectant mothers, offering a good source of protein and calcium. When selecting cottage cheese during pregnancy, it’s crucial to choose varieties made from pasteurized milk to mitigate any potential risks.

See Also: 18 Creative Cottage Cheese Recipes

5. Cream Cheese:

Cream cheese is a popular and versatile option that is typically made from pasteurized milk. It can be used in various recipes, from breakfast bagels to decadent desserts, providing a creamy texture without compromising safety.

See Also: Mascarpone vs Cream Cheese: What’s the Difference?

6. Blue Cheese Alternatives:

While traditional blue-veined cheeses like Gorgonzola and Roquefort may pose a higher risk of Listeria contamination, there are safe alternatives for those craving the distinctive flavor. Look for blue cheese varieties made from pasteurized milk to enjoy this unique taste without compromising safety.

7. Feta Alternatives:

Feta, a beloved cheese in Mediterranean cuisine, can also be enjoyed during pregnancy. Opt for varieties made from pasteurized milk to ensure safety, and savor the crumbly texture in salads or as a topping for various dishes.

What Cheeses Tend to be Unpasteurized and/or Unsafe

Certain cheeses are more likely to be made from unpasteurized milk, rendering them potentially unsafe for consumption during pregnancy due to the risk of bacterial contamination. Here are some types of cheeses that tend to be unpasteurized and may pose a higher risk:

1. Brie:

Brie is a soft, creamy cheese with a velvety rind, and it is often made from unpasteurized milk. Pregnant women are advised to choose pasteurized versions to reduce the risk of Listeria contamination.

2. Camembert:

Similar to Brie, Camembert is a soft, French cheese known for its creamy interior and bloomy rind. Unpasteurized versions of Camembert should be avoided during pregnancy in favor of pasteurized alternatives.

3. Blue-veined Cheeses:

Cheeses like Gorgonzola, Roquefort, and Stilton are examples of blue-veined cheeses that may carry a higher risk of Listeria contamination. Pregnant women should opt for blue cheese varieties made from pasteurized milk to minimize potential health risks.

4. Feta:

Traditional Feta cheese, often used in Mediterranean cuisine, can be made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. To ensure safety during pregnancy, it is advisable to choose Feta made from pasteurized milk.

5. Queso Fresco and Queso Blanco:

These fresh Hispanic cheeses are commonly made from unpasteurized milk. Pregnant women are encouraged to select pasteurized versions or explore alternative cheeses to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination.

6. Cambozola:

Cambozola is a creamy and flavorful cheese that combines characteristics of Camembert and Gorgonzola. Some variations may be made from unpasteurized milk, and pregnant women should check labels to ensure pasteurization.

7. Pont-l’Évêque:

Pont-l’Évêque is a soft, washed-rind cheese from Normandy, France. Like other soft cheeses, it may be made from unpasteurized milk, so caution is advised during pregnancy.

8. Taleggio:

Taleggio is a semi-soft cheese with a strong aroma and creamy texture. Some versions may be produced using unpasteurized milk, making it important for pregnant women to choose pasteurized alternatives.

It’s crucial for expectant mothers to read labels carefully and inquire about the pasteurization status when purchasing cheese. Additionally, when dining out, asking about the cheese’s pasteurization status is a prudent practice to ensure a safe culinary experience during pregnancy.

See Also: 6 Cheeses to Avoid & 6 to Eat While Breastfeeding

Risks of Consuming Unsafe Cheeses During Pregnancy

Consuming unsafe cheeses during pregnancy, particularly those made from unpasteurized milk, poses potential risks to both the mother and the developing baby. The primary concern revolves around the risk of bacterial contamination, especially with the presence of Listeria monocytogenes. Here are the key risks associated with consuming unsafe cheeses during pregnancy:

1. Listeriosis:

Listeria monocytogenes is a bacterium that can cause listeriosis, a rare but serious illness. Pregnant women are more susceptible to listeriosis due to changes in the immune system, making it easier for the bacteria to cross the placenta and infect the unborn baby. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, or severe health issues in the newborn.

2. Flu-Like Symptoms:

In pregnant women, symptoms of listeriosis may manifest as flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, and fatigue. While these symptoms may be mild in the mother, the impact on the developing baby can be severe.

3. Premature Birth:

Listeriosis can increase the risk of premature birth, potentially leading to complications for both the baby and the mother. Premature babies may face developmental challenges and have an increased likelihood of health issues.

4. Low Birth Weight:

Babies born to mothers who have contracted listeriosis during pregnancy may be at risk of low birth weight. Low birth weight is associated with a higher risk of health complications for the newborn.

5. Developmental Issues:

In severe cases, listeriosis can lead to developmental issues, neurological damage, or other long-term health problems for the baby.

6. Maternal Health Complications:

While the focus is often on the health of the unborn baby, listeriosis can also lead to complications in the mother, including septicemia and meningitis. These complications can have serious consequences for maternal health.
It’s important to note that the overall risk of contracting listeriosis from consuming unsafe cheeses is relatively low. However, the severity of the potential consequences underscores the need for caution and adherence to recommended guidelines during pregnancy.

Navigating Cheese Labels and Packaging

Reading and understanding cheese labels is a crucial skill for pregnant women who want to make informed choices about their cheese consumption. Key information to look for includes:

Pasteurization: Choose cheeses made from pasteurized milk, as this process significantly reduces the risk of harmful bacteria.

Packaging: Opt for cheeses that are securely sealed and well-packaged, as this minimizes the risk of contamination during storage and transportation.

Expiration Date: Always check the expiration date on the cheese packaging and ensure that the product is consumed within the recommended timeframe for optimal safety.

Practical Tips for Safe Cheese Consumption

In addition to selecting safe cheese options, there are practical tips that pregnant women can follow to enhance the safety of their cheese consumption:

Storage Practices: Proper storage of cheese is crucial to prevent bacterial growth. Refrigerate cheese promptly and adhere to recommended storage temperatures. Additionally, store cheeses separately to avoid cross-contamination.

Cooking: Cooking cheese to a safe temperature can further reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Incorporate cheeses into cooked dishes, such as casseroles, soups, and baked dishes, ensuring they reach the recommended internal temperature.

Consulting Healthcare Providers: Individual health considerations may vary, and it’s advisable for pregnant women to consult their healthcare providers for personalized dietary advice. Healthcare professionals can provide tailored recommendations based on specific health conditions and dietary preferences.


In conclusion, enjoying cheese during pregnancy is not only possible but also a delightful way to incorporate essential nutrients into a well-balanced diet. By making informed choices, selecting safe cheese options, and following recommended guidelines, expectant mothers can savor a variety of cheeses while prioritizing the health and well-being of both themselves and their developing babies. As with any dietary considerations during pregnancy, it’s advisable to consult with healthcare providers for personalized guidance, ensuring a safe and enjoyable culinary experience throughout this transformative journey.



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