Since women undergo hormonal changes during pregnancy, their immune systems also change… making pregnant women more susceptible to food poisoning. Unlike most regular people (who usually overcome food poisoning after a couple days of diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain), pregnant women and their unborn babies face severe consequences if they get food poisoning.
For example, Listeria causes Listeriosis, an infection that provokes miscarriages, premature labor, low-birth-weight infants, and infant death. Listeriosis is so dangerous, the bacteria can infect a fetus even when the mother doesn’t show any signs of infection. An unborn child infected with Listeria may develop serious health problems (including – but not limited to – paralysis, blindness, mental retardation, heart problems, and brain problems). Moreover, pregnant women are approximately ten times more likely to contract a Listeria infection.
And there are other pathogens responsible for hearing loss, blindness, mental retardation, and even neonatal sepsis (blood infection in your newborn baby).
What to Avoid
In order to protect yourself (and your unborn baby) against potentially deadly disease-causing microorganisms, you’ll need to avoid certain risky foods. This means you should not consume unpasteurized beverages, uncooked foods, seafood that contains high amounts of mercury, cold meats, “premade” meat and salads, processed meat, and other products made from raw milk.
More specifically, you have to avoid soft cheese and other cheeses made from unpasteurized milk… because it’s likely they carry E. Coli or Listeria. Besides, even if the cheese is made from pasteurized milk, some kinds of cheese can cause foodborne illness. You should avoid the following cheeses: Brie, Feta, Camembert, Roquefort, Queso Blanco, and Queso Fresco.
In addition, you’ll have to avoid fish that is contaminated with mercury (Swordfish, Shark, King Mackerel, and Tilefish). And, remember to not eat raw fish, shellfish, and any other kind of seafood. This means you need to avoid sashimi, sushi, and ceviche.
On the other hand, there are tons of safe foods you can enjoy without any trouble – as long as you cook them to the appropriate internal temperature.
The list of safe foods includes hard cheeses, pasteurized beverages, properly cooked eggs, cooked meat, and washed fruits and vegetables.
However, if you truly want to safeguard yourself (and your baby) against foodborne illness, you’ll have to keep in mind the 3 “golden rules” of food safety:
- Always wash your hands with warm water and antibacterial soap.
- Never use the same utensils, cutting boards, plates, knives, and surfaces for raw and cooked foods. Do not let raw meat juices touch other foods.
- Cook your foods until they reach the right internal temperature, in order to kill all bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
If you avoid risky foods, eat safe foods, and follow the three golden rules of food safety, then you can be sure your unborn baby will be 100% shielded against the dreadful consequences of foodborne illness. However, restaurants must also make sure they’re following excellent food safety guidelines, or they’ll also face serious consequences. If you own a restaurant (or you are a restaurant manager), and you need to learn more about how to serve the safest food in the United States of America, then you’ll have to take advantage of Ken Kuscher’s ANSI-CFP approved courses on food safety for restaurant managers. Call 561-369-2622 for more information.