Skip to main content

 

Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth & Beyond

Skip section navigation

First trimester: Food safety

The following tips will help keep your food safe from harmful bacteria.

Keep things clean

The following tips will help keep your food safe from harmful bacteria.

  • Wash your hands well before and after handling food. Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers or handling pets.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating.
  • Wash utensils, dishes, cutting boards, counters and sinks with hot, soapy water after they come in contact with raw meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or unwashed fresh produce.
  • Clean up spills in your refrigerator right away. Look at expiration dates on containers. Once a week throw away food that should no longer be eaten.

Keep things separated

  • Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood separate from other items in your grocery cart and refrigerator.
  • Put uncooked meat, poultry and fish in sealed containers or plastic bags when storing them in the refrigerator.
  • Use one cutting board for raw meats and a different one for fruits and vegetables.
  • Place cooked meat, poultry and seafood on a clean plate. Do not reuse a plate that held the raw food.

Keep things chilled

  • Keep your refrigerator at 40 F or below and your freezer at zero F or below.
  • Refrigerate food quickly. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from multiplying.
  • Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours of purchase. (Refrigerate within one hour if the temperature is more than 90 F.)
  • Refrigerate or freeze prepared foods and leftovers within two hours (within one hour if the temperature is more than 90 F).
  • Use shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Don't overpack the refrigerator; leave room for the cold air to circulate.
  • Never thaw foods on the counter. Thaw foods in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in a microwave.

Cook things well

  • Use a clean, quick-read food thermometer to determine the temperature of foods.
  • Cook foods until they have reached the proper temperature:
    • roast beef and steaks to at least 145 F
    • ground beef to at least 160 F
    • pork chops and roasts to 160 F
    • chicken breasts to 170 F
    • whole poultry to 180 F
    • fish until it's opaque and flakes easily with a fork
    • eggs until the yolks and whites are firm.
  • Reheat leftovers to 165 F.

For more information, visit foodsafety.gov.

Tips to prevent food-related illness

Listeria is a kind of bacteria that can contaminate foods and cause an infection called listeriosis. This is a serious illness that can cause premature labor or death to a developing or newborn baby. To reduce your risk of listeriosis:

  • Make sure all milk and milk products are pasteurized. Do not eat unpasteurized soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses and Mexican-style cheeses.
  • Reheat hot dogs, lunch meats and deli meats until they are steaming hot.
  • Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads. (Canned or shelf-stable spreads are fine.)
  • Only eat refrigerated smoked seafood as an ingredient in a cooked dish, such as a casserole.
  • Reheat precooked take-home meals to 165 F.

Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite. This infection comes from cat feces and raw meat.

Salmonella and E. coli 0157 bacteria can contaminate foods and cause serious illness. Don't eat raw sprouts while you are pregnant because they can be easily contaminated. In addition, follow the tips for safe food handling.

Choosing fish wisely

Fish is a good source of protein, contains fatty acids, and is low in saturated fat. However, any fish (store-bought or fresh-caught) could contain contaminants such as mercury or PCBs that can harm a developing baby.

It's best to vary the kind of fish you eat and limit the amount of fish you eat to one to two meals a week.

The amount of fish in a meal depends on your body weight. If you weigh 150 pounds, you could safely eat one-half pound (8 ounces) of fish (precooked weight).

To adjust the amount of fish, subtract or add one ounce of fish for every 20 pounds of body weight:

  • If you weigh 130 pounds, eat 7 ounces of fish.
  • If you weigh 150 pounds, eat 8 ounces of fish.
  • If you weigh 170 pounds, eat 9 ounces of fish.

Tips to help you choose fish

  • Avoid king mackerel, swordfish, tilefish and shark. These are large, salt-water fish most likely to have high levels of mercury.
  • Avoid eating these locally caught fish: walleye larger than 20 inches, northern pike larger than 30 inches, and all muskellunge.
  • Limit canned tuna to 6 ounces a week. Light tuna is a smaller fish and less likely to have high levels of mercury. Limit eating canned albacore tuna to one 6-ounce meal a month.
  • Eat up to two meals a week of farm-raised or wild salmon from the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean, not from the Great Lakes.
  • Avoid raw fish, sushi and sashimi because it could contain harmful bacteria.

The Minnesota Department of Health has guidelines on eating specific kinds of fish.


 

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Beginnings: Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, sixth edition, preg-ahc-90026, ISBN 1-931876-25-8

First published: 02/06/2009
Last updated: 01/20/2014

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts