4 foods to avoid during pregnancy

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When a woman finds out she’s eating for two, deciding what to eat – and what not to eat – can be confusing.

While most foods are fine to enjoy in moderation,  Dr. William K. Hamilton of Mon Health Obstetrics & Gynecology tells his patients to avoid:

4 foods to avoid during pregnancySushi and undercooked meats

Raw fish and undercooked meat may contain bacteria that cause food poisoning. However, feel free to enjoy California rolls, which contain steamed crab, and rolls with cooked shellfish or cooked eel.  Beef, pork, lamb and veal should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees, and chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees.

If you’re dining out, it may be helpful to mention your pregnancy to the waiter to ensure that your entrée is cooked thoroughly.

Cold Deli Meats

While you don’t need to pass up the ham or turkey sandwich, don’t eat it cold. Ask for your sandwich to be toasted, or heat the meat in the microwave for 30 seconds prior to eating.

While very unlikely, deli meats could contain listeria. Pregnant women are more susceptible to listeria, and a developing fetus may experience complications or even death.

Unpasteurized cheese

Most cheese sold in the United States is made from pasteurized milk. Soft cheeses – like Brie, queso blanco, blue cheese – are safe if they were made from pasteurized milk. Simply check the label, or ask your waiter. Unpasteurized cheese may contain listeria.


Avoid fish with high levels of mercury such as swordfish or yellowfin tuna. While fish can be part of a healthy pregnancy diet, don’t eat the same type of fish three times a week. Switch it up with other types of fish. Some of the lower-mercury fish include salmon, tilapia, canned tuna, cod and catfish.

For more pregnancy health information, visit our Health Library.