Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Food Safety

Food safety is especially important for pregnant women.

When you are pregnant, your ability to fight off infection is lower than usual. In addition, your unborn baby's immune system is not fully developed. This means both you and your baby have a greater chance of getting sick from eating unsafe food. This is called "foodborne illness."

If you get a foodborne illness, the effects may be worse than if you were not pregnant. Some foodborne illnesses may cause a woman to have a miscarriage or premature delivery, can lead to the death of the newborn baby. They may also result in serious health problems for the baby after birth.

To protect your health and your baby's health, you need to be especially careful about food safety while you are pregnant.


Food safety advice for everyone

Keep food safe to eat by following these general guidelines to avoid foodborne illness. Visit Foodsafety.gov to learn how to follow each one of these guidelines.

CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often.
SEPARATE: Don't cross-contaminate. For example, after cutting meat, wash the knife before using it to cut vegetables.
COOK: Cook to proper temperature using a food thermometer.
CHILL: Refrigerate promptly.

Some foods pose high risk of foodborne illness.  These include unpasteurized (raw) milk, cheese, and juices; raw or undercooked animal foods, such as seafood, meat, poultry, and eggs, and raw sprouts. Do not eat these foods.

Food safety advice when you are pregnant

  • Follow the food safety advice for everyone (see box). 
  • Follow the advice to keep you and your baby safe from foodborne illness. Listeriosis and toxoplasmosis are foodborne illnesses that are more likely to affect pregnant women. They can have serious harmful effects. Learn more from the links below.
  • Follow the advice on eating seafood while you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Learn more from the link below.
  • Check with your doctor or health care provider if you have a specific question or concern.

Food safety advice while you are breastfeeding your baby:

  • Follow the food safety advice for everyone (see box). 
  • Follow the advice on eating seafood while you are breastfeeding. 
  • Check with your doctor if you have a specific question or concern.