Which Cheeses Should I Avoid Eating When I'm Pregnant?

Question: Which Cheeses Should I Avoid Eating When I'm Pregnant?


You may have learned that there are certain foods pregnant women are instructed to avoid. This is because of the risks associated with listeriosis, a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. Cheese is amongst the foods that pose a risk of harboring this bacteria.

The cheeses (and other dairy products) most likely to harbor Listeria, and thus pose a risk of causing listeriosis, are those cheeses made from unpasteurized milk.

Because listeriosis can cause miscarriage and stillbirth, avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese products during pregnancy. Unpasteurized dairy products can also be called "raw milk" or "raw milk cheese."

Imported soft cheeses are at risk for Listeria contamination also, because some of these cheeses may be unpasteurized. Avoid the following cheeses unless you are sure that they are made from pasteurized milk (check the label) or have been well-cooked (ricotta in a well-cooked lasagna is probably safe, for example):

  • Brie
  • Camembert
  • Feta
  • Roquefort
  • Ricotta
  • Queso Fresco (and other Mexican cheeses)
Cheeses you find at green markets or made by small cheesemakers, regardless of the variety, are frequently made with raw milk and should be avoided, too.

In order to protect yourself from Listeria, be sure to also steer clear of refrigerated pates, smoked seafood not contained in a cooked preparation, and hot dogs and deli meats that have not been steamed or reheated to 160 degrees.


American Pregnancy Association, "Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy." Nov 2007. Accessed 9 Jan 2008.

American Pregnancy Association, "Listeria and Pregnancy." Jan 2006. Accessed 9 Jan 2008.

State Government of Victoria, Australia, "Listeria - the facts." Dec 2007. Accessed 8 Jan 2008.

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