Eats: Eating Out & Bringing In During Pregnancy
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
at a restaurant, cafeteria, or a fast food place can be an enjoyable
experience. But, because you're pregnant, you need to take special
care that the food served to you is safe. During pregnancy, your
immune system is weakened, which makes it harder for your body to
fight off harmful foodborne microorganisms that cause foodborne
illness. Here's how to stay safe...
a Clean Start
When you eat out, look at your surroundings before you even sit
down. If it's not clean, you should consider eating somewhere else.
Also, make sure you wash your hands with soap and warm water before
eating. If soap and water aren't available, use alcohol-based wipes
or gel formulas to clean your hands.
you sit down, be sure it's clean all around...
On the Menu?
When dining out, remember that harmful bacteria can be hidden in
some foods on the menu, so pay close attention to the type of food
it is and how it's prepared.
Cook Thoroughly, Please
Always request that your food be cooked thoroughly, especially meat,
poultry, fish, and eggs. When a hot meal is served, make sure it's
piping hot and thoroughly cooked. If it's lukewarm, send it back.
It Raw is Risky
Raw fish (such as sushi or sashimi) or foods made with raw fish
are more likely to contain parasites or bacteria than foods made
from cooked fish. Don't eat raw or undercooked finfish or shellfish
(including oysters, clams, and mussels).
Don't Order These
Swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark. These fish can contain
high levels of methylmercury, a metal that can be harmful to your
unborn baby. For more information, see Methylmercury.
okay to eat other cooked fish/seafood as long as a variety of other
kinds are selected during pregnancy or while a woman is trying to
become pregnant. You can choose shellfish, canned fish, smaller
ocean fish, or farm-raised fish. You can safely eat 12 ounces per
week of a variety of cooked fish. A typical serving size of fish
is from 3 to 6 ounces. Of course, if your serving sizes are smaller,
you can eat fish more frequently.
sprouts of any kind (including alfalfa, clover, and radish). Bacteria
can get into the sprout seeds through cracks in the shell before
the sprouts are grown. Once this occurs, these bacteria are nearly
impossible to wash out. Check sandwiches and salads. They may often
contain raw sprouts. Request that raw sprouts not be added to your
by the glass. Juices that are fresh squeezed and sold by the glass,
at some juice bars, for example, may not be pasteurized or otherwise
treated to ensure their safety. Warning labels are not required
on these products. Pregnant women and young children should avoid
all unpasteurized juices.
bacteria can be found in raw or undercooked eggs. Some restaurants
may use uncooked eggs in foods like Caesar salad dressing, custards,
and some sauces. Avoid foods that might contain raw or undercooked
you're unsure about the ingredients in a particular dish, ask your
server before ordering it.
With meal portions getting bigger, more and more people are packing
the doggie bag with leftovers to enjoy later. Take care to handle
leftovers, take-out, and delivered foods safely.
A Restaurant With A Doggie Bag?...
Handle the leftovers with care. If you won't be arriving home within
two hours of being served, don't take the leftovers home with you.
And, remember that the inside of a car can get very warm, and bacteria
can grow rapidly in foods if they're left in these conditions. To
be safe, it's best to go directly home after eating out and put
your leftovers in the refrigerator as soon as you arrive.
Note About Take-Out Foods...
When hot, cooked food is purchased, get the food home quickly and
eat it right away. Don't let it sit out at room temperature. Cold
foods should be eaten within two hours of preparation. Otherwise,
store it in the refrigerator or freeze it for eating at another
For delivered foods, eat the food within two hours after it arrives
to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying. If the food is not
going to be eaten within two hours, you can keep it hot in the oven
with the temperature set at or above 200° F (93° C). Side
dishes, like stuffing, must also be kept hot in the oven. Covering
food will help keep it moist while you keep it warm. Check with
a food thermometer to make sure that the food is held at an internal
temperature of 140° F (60° C).
The "danger zone" is the range of temperatures at which
bacteria can grow - usually between 40° and 140° F (4°
and 60° C). For food safety, it's important to keep food below
or above the "danger zone." Remember the 2-Hour Rule:
Discard any perishables (foods that can spoil or become contaminated
by bacteria if unrefrigerated) left out at room temperature for
longer than two hours. When temperatures are above 90° F (32°
C), discard food after one hour.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration www.fda.gov