Foods to avoid in pregnancy

Now you're pregnant, there are some foods and drinks that are best avoided or limited because of small risks to the safety of your baby.

Eating some foods and drinks during pregnancy may increase the risk of harm to you and/or your baby.

Raw or undercooked meat

Avoid undercooked meat, especially sausages or minced meat. Be careful to cook them thoroughly so there’s no trace of pink or blood. Although the risk is low, you may also prefer to avoid raw cured meat, such as Parma ham, chorizo, pepperoni and salami. It’s safest to eat well-cooked meat when you’re pregnant.

Why? There is a risk of toxoplasmosis, a tiny parasite that lives in raw meat, soil and cat poo and can harm the baby.

Unpasteurised milk and dairy products

All milk sold in shops, supermarkets and restaurants in the UK is pasteurised and fine to drink. If you are a farmer or use farmers’ markets, however, you might come across unpasteurised milk and products made from it. You should avoid these. This also applies to goat's milk and sheep's milk. If you only have access to unpasteurised milk, boil it before using.

Why? There is an increased risk of toxoplasmosis, listeriosis and Campylobacter.

Liver and other foods containing vitamin A

Avoid liver and liver products, such as liver pâté and liver sausage. It's not safe to take multivitamins containing vitamin A or fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil. Also steer clear of any foods that have vitamin A added (they may say 'fortified with vitamin A').

Why? Liver has high levels of vitamin A, and too much of this can harm your baby.

Download your free guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy


Avoid all types of pâté, including vegetable pâté.

Why? They may contain listeria. These are bacteria that can cause an infection called listeriosis. Listeriosis can harm a baby during pregnancy or cause severe illness in a newborn. Liver pate can also have high levels of vitamin A, which is harmful to the baby.

Certain cheeses


  • mould-ripened soft cheeses, such as brie, camembert and others with a similar rind, including goats' cheese
  • soft blue-veined cheeses, such as Danish blue, gorgonzola and Roquefort.

Why? There’s a risk that these cheeses could contain listeria.

Find out more on the NHS website.

Undercooked ready meals

It’s important to follow the cooking instructions on the pack of any ready meals you eat. Also, check that the meal is piping hot all the way through before you eat it. This is especially important for meals containing poultry, such as chicken or turkey.

Why? There’s a risk that these could contain listeria.

Raw eggs or undercooked eggs (excepting Lion Code)

It’s important that any eggs you eat are cooked until the yolks and whites are solid all the way through. Using eggs in cooked recipes is safe but avoid foods that have raw egg in them, such as homemade mayonnaise or mousse.

Why? There’s a risk of salmonella, a common cause of food poisoning that can harm the baby and make you very unwell.

Red Lion eggs are an exception

British red lion eggs logo

Eggs that are produced under a food safety standard called the British Lion Code of Practice have a much lower risk of salmonella and are safe to eat raw or partially cooked.

  • Each egg has a logo stamped on their shell, showing a red lion. 
  • Cartons have the quality mark on the label
  • It only appears on hen eggs

Lion Code eggs are considered very low risk for salmonella, and safe for pregnant women to eat raw or partially cooked. 

What happens if I get Salmonella?

Salmonella food poisoning is unlikely to harm your baby, but it can give you a bad bout of diarrhoea and vomiting.

Certain kinds of fish

Fish is good for you and you should aim to eat at least two portions a week, including one portion of oily fish, such as fresh tuna, mackerel or sardines. However, there are some types of fish you should avoid and some you should limit:

  • Avoid shark, swordfish and marlin as they have high levels of mercury, which could affect your baby’s nervous system.
  • Limit tuna to no more than two fresh steaks or four medium cans of tinned tuna a week because it also has high levels of mercury.
  • Limit oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, herring, pilchards) to no more than two portions a week as they contain pollutants.
  • Avoid eating raw shellfish, such as oysters, as they may give you food poisoning. (Cooked shellfish are fine – these include cold pre-cooked prawns.)

Top tip

Try to avoid eating from your toddler’s plate or with their knife and fork. It can put you at risk of a viral infection called Cytomegalovirus (CMV), which is often contracted by young children at nurseries. The virus is harmless to children but could have harmful effects on an unborn baby.


It's safest to avoid alcohol completely during pregnancy, especially in the first three months. If you do choose to drink after that, keep it to a maximum of one or two units, no more than once or twice a week.

Why? Alcohol can harm you and your baby, and experts cannot be sure that any amount of alcohol is safe.

Find out more about alcohol in pregnancy.


Drinking a lot of caffeine in pregnancy has been linked to miscarriage and low birth weight.

Caffeine is found in:

  • tea and coffee
  • cola and other soft drinks
  • chocolate

You should limit your caffeine intake to no more than 200mg a day during your pregnancy.

A can of cola has around 40mg of caffeine, a mug of tea has around 75mg, a bar of plain chocolate has around 50mg, a cup of instant coffee has around 100mg, a mug of filter coffee has around 140mg.

It can add up quickly - you will reach your limit with, for example:

  • one bar of plain chocolate and one mug of filter coffee
  • two mugs of tea and one can of cola

Work out how much caffeine you have each day with this counter.

Can I eat peanuts during my pregnancy?

Doctors used to say you shouldn’t eat peanuts or peanut butter if you or your baby’s dad have asthma, eczema or allergies. This was because it was thought that eating peanuts might make the baby more likely to be allergic to them. But the latest research has shown no clear evidence that eating peanuts during pregnancy affects the chances of your baby developing a peanut allergy.

What if I've already eaten something risky?

Don't panic. If it didn't make you ill at the time, it's unlikely to have affected you or your baby. Talk to your doctor or midwife if you're worried about something you've eaten.

Download your free guide to a healthy diet in pregnancy

Read more


  1. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (published 2008, updated 2017) ‘Antenatal Care for uncomplicated pregnancies’, NICE Clinical Guidelines 62:
  2. FSA (2012), Advisory Committee on the Microbial Safety of Food, Ad hoc group on Vulnerable Groups, Risk profile in relation to toxoplasma in the food chain, Food Standards Agency, London, England
  3. Review of advice to consumers (including vulnerable groups) on eating raw or lightly cooked shell eggs and their products in the UK [accessed 21 June 2017]
  4. Oken E et al. (2008). “Maternal fish intake during pregnancy blood mercury levels and child cognition at age 3 years in a US cohort.” Am J Epidemiol 2008;167:1171-1181
  5. NHS Choices [accessed 27/06/2017] Drinking alcohol while pregnant (Page last reviewed: 14/01/2017 Next review due: 14/01/2020)
  6. CARE study group 2008. “Maternal Caffeine intake during pregnancy and risk of fetal growth restriction: a large prospective observational study.” BMJ 2008;337: doi:
  7. NHS Choices [accessed 27/06/2017] Should I limit caffeine in pregnancy? Page (last reviewed: 30/03/2015 Next review due: 01/03/2018)
  8. NHS Choices [accessed 27/06/2017] Peanuts’ in ‘Why should I avoid some foods in pregnancy?, Page last reviewed: 01/04/2015. Next review due: 01/03/2018)
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    Last reviewed on June 27th, 2016. Next review date June 27th, 2020.

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    Please note that these comments are monitored but not answered by Tommy’s. Please call your GP or maternity unit if you have concerns about your health or your baby’s health.
    • By Latha (not verified) on 1 Apr 2018 - 17:15

      I'm just worried because I do test yesterday morning and it's come out positive . This will be my first baby. But past one week I have been through diarrhea and tired and also can't eat anything . Can this all effect my baby?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Apr 2018 - 12:30

      Thank you for your message. I'm sorry to hear that you have been unwell, but it is unlikely this will harm the baby unless the symptoms get much worse or are not going away. Feeling tired is very common in early pregnancy . Try to have a healthy diet, avoid eating big meals or anything too fatty or sugary that may upset your stomach more. Small regular meals may be easier for you if you do not feel like eating much. Its also very important to make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids-frequent sips of water may be easier to tolerate.
      If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, please seek advice from your GP or A&E if the symptoms become severe.

      I have attached 2 links with more information for you
      Hope this helps
      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Massa (not verified) on 25 Mar 2018 - 09:07

      I found out that I'm pregnant like 3 days ago, yesterday i had a full plate of Tabbouleh which is basicly a lot of parsley and some tomatoes and lemon juice, today i read that parsley could lead to miscarriage, i'm in panic now, my first appointment with my doctor is in the next week, could you please tell me if this is right or not?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 26 Mar 2018 - 15:27

      Parsley is not one of the foods to avoid in pregnancy. In fact it is a food rich in Vitamin C and K and a good source of iron and folic acid. When looking for health information on line try to use only websites that display the logo 'Health information you can trust' (top right hand corner of our pages).
      Take care

    • By Joanita (not verified) on 21 Mar 2018 - 20:58

      Is eating pineapple bad in pregnancy ( I mean the juice ?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 22 Mar 2018 - 15:27

      Hi Joanita, Thank you for your comment.

      You are fine to drink pineapple juice in pregnancy as long as it has been pasteurised. Hope this helps. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By sara (not verified) on 12 Mar 2018 - 20:12

      I am pregnant.lmp jan 12.when would be my due date

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Mar 2018 - 10:38

      Hi, Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your pregnancy.
      If you LMP was 12th January then your estimated due date would be around the 17th October. Hope this helps, Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By rehta (not verified) on 12 Mar 2018 - 20:06

      I am pregnant.LMP jan 12.I cant sleep at night.but day time i want to sleep.Is it usual or not.What can i do

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 14 Mar 2018 - 11:12

      Hi Rehta,

      Pregnancy can affect your sleep and if you are not sleeping at night you are obviously going to be really tired during the day. Can you see if you can start a bedtime routine to see if you can relax and improve your sleep at night time. Have a decaffeinated tea, shower or bath. Read a feel good book perhaps and avoid screen time or stimulating activity.
      Is there anything worrying you that is preventing you from sleeping Rehta? If you'd like to talk to a midwife you can call us on 0800 0147 0800 alternatively email us [email protected]
      Really hope your sleep gets better soon until then nap when you can!
      Best wishes
      Anna-Tommy's midwife

    • By Vinita chaudhary (not verified) on 4 Mar 2018 - 11:12

      I had taken ketoconazole tablets when i was unknown that i am pregnant,i think at 2 wks of pregnancy.i tested forpregnancy when my periods does not come.what should i do now?

    • By Daisy (not verified) on 28 Jan 2018 - 15:49

      Hi, I’ve recently found out I’m pregnant. I think around 5-6 weeks. Still waiting to hear from the midwife. I’m worried as I had a allergic reaction and had hives all over my body like I have had for quite a while and took strong tablets for a week as I never knew. Will this of harmed the baby?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 30 Jan 2018 - 12:52

      Dear Daisy,
      I'm sorry to hear about the allergic reaction you had and that you are now feeling worried due to taking an anti-histamine. Do you know which one you took? During pregnancy your local pharmacist can be a great resource informing you on your options for colds, hayfever and illness. The website BUMPS (Best use of medicines in pregnancy) is also brilliant with an A-Z list of drugs and leaflets about their safety in pregnancy. I include the link below.
      Hopefully you should be able to discuss this with your midwife at your first appointment in the next 4-6 weeks and you will also be having your first scan between 11-14 weeks so let the ultrasonographer know that this has been worrying you.

      Please get in contact at any time in your pregnancy if you have worries that we can help you with either by emailing [email protected] or calling the PregnancyLine on 0800 0147 800
      Warmest wishes
      Anna-Tommy's Midwife

    • By Claire (not verified) on 11 Jan 2018 - 21:14

      Hi I have just taken a pregnancy test and it is came back positive. I am super happy and still a bit in shock. I am a little worried though as I have been having quite few nights where I have been drinking with it being Christmas and New Year, been reading a few comments on here. I will be booking my first appointment with the GP tomorrow, but just wondering if there is anyone on here that could give me some reassurance. Thanks C x

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 12 Jan 2018 - 14:13

      Hi Claire,
      Congratulations on your pregnancy!
      Worries about drinking alcohol in early pregnancy when you were not aware is not uncommon, please try not to worry as you do not have control over this now, all you can do is stop drinking alcohol from now. Fetal alcohol syndrome is as a result of more consistent drinking or binge drinking on several occasions. Whilst I am sure you understand there are no guarantees, it is unlikely that you have caused harm to your unborn baby. If you have not already, we would advised for you to be taking folic acid and vitamin D as soon as you can. If we can support you further then please do be in touch.

    • By Desperately nee... (not verified) on 28 Nov 2017 - 07:16

      Two years ago, I begin having pains in my stomach and some itching in my vigina. I went to the hospital and the doctor said I had bacteria in my vigina so he gave me clindamycin to take and then took me off work for at least a week. After few days of taking the medication, I had a miscarriage. I begin to Wonder if it was the clindamycin that caused it. Please help

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 29 Nov 2017 - 09:05

      Hi there.
      I am so sorry to hear about your miscarriage two years ago. We do not know what causes miscarriages on the whole. Clindamycin is an antibiotic used to treat a variety of infections. It is safe to take in pregnancy and would not have caused a miscarriage to occur. It would have been an unfortunate coincidence that the loss occurred two days after the start of your antibiotic course. Please feel free to email or contact us again soon if we can be of any further assistance. Take care of yourself.
      Sophie, Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 16 Nov 2017 - 20:30

      Hi I've just found out I am 5 weeks pregnant ,I came off the pill on Aug 31st didn't have a period until 9th oct but it wasn't like a normal flow and only lasted 5 days now I've done another test and been to docs they say I'm 5 weeks gone or could I be more ?im waiting for the midwife to ring me I'm worried as I went out for my birthday and consumed quite a bit of alcohol but obviously I didn't no I was pregnant.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 17 Nov 2017 - 09:27

      Hi, it can be a little confusing to work out dates when you conceived straight after stopping contraception and did not have a full period in-between. It is likely that your period on the 9th of October could have been a withdrawal bleed but the health professionals will take this bleed as your period and use this to work how roughly how many weeks pregnant you are. They will refer you for a scan for when you are about 11-14 weeks pregnant, this will give you your official due date and how many weeks pregnant you are, this is the most accurate time to date a pregnancy. Please try not to worry if you have consumed alcohol when you did not realise you were pregnant, as a one off occasion it is very unlikely this has caused any harm to your baby. You having done the right thing by informing your midwife/GP, and just stop drinking alcohol from now on. If you have not already, then we would strongly advise for you to be taking folic acid and vitamin D supplements also. I hope this helps, Tommy's midwives.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 15 Nov 2017 - 01:43

      so randomly got sick one morning after i got off work and didn't think anything of it well i just could shake the feeling that something was wrong so i went got a pregnancy test and both came back positive and im not sure what to do ..... im just nerves and overwhelmed its a fresh situation at 25 never been pregnant or thought about it ... life is a beautiful thing i just didnt think i was going to get a chance to be a part of motherhood

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 15 Nov 2017 - 14:36

      Hello, Thank you for your comment.
      Finding out that you are pregnant either planned or unplanned can be a shock and can take a little while to process and to sink in. The next thing to do is go and see your GP and tell them that you are pregnant, they will then refer you to your midwife and your antenatal care can begin. As this pregnancy wasn't planned it is important that you start taking your pregnancy vitamins, you can get these from any pharmacy. It is recommended that you take 400mcg folic acid and 10mcg Vitamin D in pregnancy. Please go to this link for more information
      If you would like to speak to one of the Tommy's Midwives then please call us on 0800 0147 800 Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By anonymous (not verified) on 15 Oct 2017 - 08:50

      me and my boyfriend had sex for the first time , he broke my virginity and immediatly when we were done i felt nausea everyday and as two weeks went by I took a test and it was negative... I then got my period in the week after that and it wasn't like a normal period , I was bleeding a light reddish brownish colour blood and sharp mild pains from my vagina to my bladder area and that wasn't normal for me because I get my periods very severe I then began to have swollen feet , mixed emotions , I cry alot ,
      My nipples is extremely sore and I have white pimple around my nipples and white stuff on My nipples , my breast feel full it feel like hard ball ,I want to lay whole time and it sometimes feel like bubbles popping in my tummy and almost like a constant drum beating in my tummy then it stops and beats again then it stops ,
      I walk heavy and breathe heavily and I find my left hand moving along with me almost like its moving me to the front
      I get nauseous but not alot
      I get heartburn
      I want strong stuff whole time
      i even got an infection then I went to the pharmacy and they gave me a vaginal cream
      I can't lay on my tummy then I feel suffocated
      It feel like my tights is chocking me
      One minute I'm extremely hungry then next minute I don't wanna see food
      I almost threw up thrice like i feel it come up then I go to the toilet then it's gone
      I'm constipated
      My boyfriend irritates the hell out of me , he can do nothing wrong and I'd just be irritated by him and then all of a sudden I feel loved by him
      i get upset for the smallest things.. I took another test and it was negative again but i continued getting this symptoms and when i have to urine , I have to go immediately otherwise I wet myself
      i got another "period " but it was still the same but i just bled a little more but it still wasn't like my normal period

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 16 Oct 2017 - 12:00

      Hi there. It is difficult to know what it is that you are experiencing. If you have done pregnancy tests and they are negative, then it is likely to be correct. It sounds like you need to go to your GP to be reviewed. All of the above symptoms you outlined could be hormone related- so you might need to be seen by a gynecology specialist. Please do take good care of yourself and make an appointment to see your doctor when you can to put your mind at ease. All the best

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 6 Dec 2017 - 21:19

      Oh boo you see the local Choices they will be confidential and very informative. Also they do ultra sounds so they can look and see. The bumps around the nipples and whatnot are all consistent with pregnancy! Very much so and are tell tell signs of it as well. Definetly get checked. I would say yes myself. Just from what you said.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 7 Dec 2017 - 11:46

      Hi Thank you for your comment.

      It is unclear what you are referring too so if you would like to contact the Tommy's midwives by email on [email protected] we will be more then happy to answer any questions that you have. Take Care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 4 Oct 2017 - 07:56

      I Am 4 Months Pregnant Now,but I Still See My Periods,i Went To The Clinic And It Shows That Am Pregnant,i Continue To Eat Soil As I Was Before,this Month I Went To The Docter But It Shows That Am Not Pregnant,but My Stomach Is Now Getting Big And I Feel My Baby Moving In My Womb,can You Help Me What Can I Do, Am I Pregnant Or Not?

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 4 Oct 2017 - 11:50

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.
      It would be advisable that you go back and see your doctor as it is very difficult to say if you are pregnant or not. If your pregnancy tests are negative then this would indicate that your aren't pregnant but if your are experiencing movements and your stomach is getting bigger then this needs to be assessed properly. Please make an appointment to see your doctor so that they can examine you again. Take care, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 19 Aug 2017 - 17:17

      I've missed my period over a week ago I'm on clomid as I can't get pregnant naturally I'm very tired all the time and I'm peeing alotI feel very bloated and passing alot of wind.
      I'm currently on alot off medications and already taking folic acid when is the best time to do a pregnancy test this will be my first baby but second pregnancy I'm a bit scared

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 21 Aug 2017 - 16:32

      Hi, You can do a pregnancy test at any time from the day you are due to have your period. I assume that you have discussed a pregnancy with your doctor if you are on medication. If not please arrange to see them as soon as you can. Good luck.

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 11 Jul 2017 - 18:39

      Hi. Thanks so much for your educative page.
      Thing is, a few days ago I discovered I could be 2-3 weeks pregnant when I missed my periods. I carried out a test yesterday and it confirmed I am indeed pregnant.
      My worry is, recently I had been feeling nauseous all the time since around the time I was supposed to receive my MP. Also I felt some crazy crumps and sharp pains irregularly. I though it was for menstruation, but it never came (It's one of the reasons I suspected I could be pregnant). But the problem is, nausea is all I felt throughout the day. No other pregnancy signs other women say feel. Like morning sickness, vomiting, tiredness etc. And then today it just stopped. The whole day since I woke up in the morning, I never felt nauseous or anything pregnant. Is there a reason for me to worry or is it normal.
      Or could it be that the radiography and ultrasound I went through a week ago in my ribs before I knew I was expectant affected my pregnancy?
      Kindly advice me, because right now I have a terrible headache worrying over this.

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 13 Jul 2017 - 11:43

      Hi, thank you for your comment.
      Please let me reassure you that ultrasound scans are used in pregnancy to monitor fetal development throughout pregnancy. Having an X-ray does not increase you risk of miscarriage but X-rays can expose the fetus to a small level of radiation so this is why they are only done if it is absolutely necessary.
      It can be very normal for nausea to come and go, like all pregnancy symptoms. These are different for any woman, some may have it at different times and at different severities.
      Mild cramping is again normal in early pregnancy, this is the uterus and ligaments stretching as the pregnancy grows. If you have any severe abdominal pain or bleeding then it is advisable for you seek medical advice. Now that you know you are pregnancy you should contact your GP who will refer you to the midwife and then your antenatal care can start. Hope this helps, Tommy's Midwives x

    • By blessing serwaah (not verified) on 4 Jul 2017 - 03:43

      am in my first tirmster of pregnancy but i dont understand why my tumm isnt been big yet but do feel pains whenever my baby beats faster than my herat cant even control sometimes i feel like the sack thu can support my baby by breathing has tear so my stomach is flat if anyone can help me or tell me what i can do to repair the sack for my unborn child will thank u

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 5 Jul 2017 - 11:33

      Thank you for your comment and congratulations on your pregnancy.
      You will not notice your tummy getting bigger until you are in your 2nd trimester when the baby and womb grow big enough to come out of the pelvis-at that stage your tummy will start to look bigger. This usually starts to happen from 15-18 weeks of pregnancy, although it is different for each person.
      If you are experiencing any regular or severe pains it is important that you contact your local early pregnancy unit or A&E. for advice
      I hope by now you have a date for your 1st scan and midwife appointment
      The scan will check if the sac is broken and the amount of water around the baby-if there is not enough, you will be advised what care you will need. There is no treatment to repair a tear in the sac at this stage of pregnancy.
      I have attached 2 links that you may find helpful
      I hope this helps. Please do not hesitate to contact us again or call our PregnancyLine 0800 0147 800
      Take care
      Tommy's Midwife

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 May 2017 - 07:57

      Oh!i love this page is educative

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 25 May 2017 - 10:45

      Hi we are please that you find the page helpful, Thank you for your feedback. Take Care Tommy's Midwives x

    • By Abigail (not verified) on 8 May 2017 - 10:45

      I learned so much on this page and thanks for sharing the knowledge. .God bless you all!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 9 May 2017 - 15:46

      Hi Abigail,
      your feedback means a lot to us! Thank you
      Anna-Tommy's Midwife

    • By zally (not verified) on 27 Mar 2017 - 09:14

      thank tommy i really learnt alot

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 27 Mar 2017 - 10:15

      Thanks Zally, we appreciate your feedback!

    • By Midwife @Tommys on 8 Feb 2017 - 09:15

      Thank you for your feedback. We really appreciate it!
      Tommy's Midwives

    • By DADDY (not verified) on 7 Feb 2017 - 17:09

      ...very educative and informative.Thanks a lot!

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 10 Jan 2017 - 09:26

      Thanks for educating us especially about alcohol/caffein with pregnancy

    • By okeke uchenna (not verified) on 9 Jan 2017 - 04:26

      I learnt something from this page.thanks

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 5 Aug 2016 - 15:23

      Thanks for helping us develop a healthy baby

    • By Anonymous (not verified) on 7 Jul 2016 - 01:57

      I really love this page,it's helpful. Thanks.

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