Food-related illness, such as food poisoning, can be serious in pregnancy. You can cut down the risk by following some easy tips when you're making meals and snacks.
Quick checklist to help you stay safe around food
- Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food, whether you're preparing it or eating it.
- If you are preparing food wash your hands after blowing your nose, helping young children blow their nose, going to the toilet, or handling pets.
- Keep all pets away from your food.
- Wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
- Use a separate chopping board to prepare raw meat.
- Wash your hands and all surfaces and utensils carefully after preparing raw meat.
- Keep raw and cooked food separate in your fridge. Put raw meat at the bottom of the fridge so that it can't drip onto cooked food.
- Make sure you cook raw chicken thoroughly to kill any bacteria that could cause food poisoning.
- Heat leftover food until it's piping hot.
- Only reheat food once.
- Allow food to defrost completely before cooking it, unless the instructions on the pack tell you to cook it from frozen.
- Check the 'use by' dates on food packs to make sure the food is safe to eat.
- Keep your fridge temperature at between 0˚C and 5˚C. It's a good idea to use a fridge thermometer to be sure.
- Avoid nibbling on food that's been sitting around at room temperature for a long time (at a buffet, for instance), as bacteria can grow quickly and could make you ill.
Don't wash raw chicken before you cook it! Any germs will be killed as it is cooked. Washing it can splash harmful bacteria around your kitchen.
After the recent report by the Food Standards Agency into the Campylobacter bug in supermarket chicken we’ve had lots of people calling us asking whether it’s OK to eat chicken in pregnancy.
Carefully reading the labels on food packets can help you pick the healthier option between similar products. They can also help you to think about the ingredients in different foods. But sometimes things are not quite as they seem.
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.
- NHS Choices [accessed 18 January 2015] ‘Food poisoning bug in chicken’: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2009/10October/Pages/chicken-food-poisoning-bug.aspx
- NHS Choices [ 07 February 2015]. “How to prepare and cook food safely.” http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/homehygiene/Pages/Foodhygiene.aspx
- ‘Food Safety Week 2014: “Don’t wash raw chicken”’, Food Standards Agency[accessed 18 January 2015] : http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/campylobacter/fsw-2014/#.U95zU0h3SbM
ℹLast reviewed on August 1st, 2016. Next review date August 1st, 2019.