Preventing Food Poisoning In Pregnancy

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Food poisoning can be quite an unpleasant experience for anyone. But more so if you are pregnant. If you’ve got food poisoning during pregnancy, it’s important to consult your doctor right away. It’s probably because you’ve consumed something that contains a virus, bacteria or toxin in it. Your body may react negatively to this causing nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Getting food poisoning during pregnancy can make any woman anxious. You will be obviously worried about the safety of your unborn child. And being pregnant puts you more at risk because of the changing metabolism and circulation. If you have got a severe case of food poisoning, it can even lead to premature delivery, miscarriage, and stillbirth (1).

Preventing Food Poisoning

And it goes without saying that prevention is the best way to deal with anything while you’re carrying a baby.

1) Wash Your Fruits And Veggies

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Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before you eat it or cook it. If it’s raw, it should be washed under running water before you start peeling or cutting.

2) Follow The Basic Hygiene

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If you’ve learned anything since childhood, it’s to wash your hands before and after having food. And the same goes after visiting the bathroom. If you have a baby or toddler at home, make sure you wash your hands after changing the diaper. Also, if you have a pet, make sure you thoroughly wash your hands if you are the one cleaning the cat litter or picking your dog’s poop.

3) Unpasteurized Milk And Food

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Avoid drinking unpasteurized milk or foods such as soft cheeses. Avoid consuming unpasteurized fruits or vegetable juices and dairy products. Go for pasteurized instead as it helps to kill bacteria such as Listeria which causes food poisoning (2).

4) Avoid Everything Raw And Uncooked

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  • Luncheon meat and hot dogs should be heated properly until they are steaming hot.
  • It’s best to avoid refrigerated smoked seafood, pate, and meat spreads.
  • Make sure the food is cooked evenly throughout especially when cooking meat.
  • When using a food thermometer, always place it in the thickest part of the food.

5) Check The Expiration Date

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Remember, they print out the expiry date for a reason. Whether you are buying a product from a supermarket or using a product from your kitchen, always be aware of the expiration date. And this goes for all your sauces, ketchup, and packaged food items.

6) Refrigerate Your Food

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  • Set your refrigerator at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and the freezer at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
  • Make sure not to leave perishable foods out in the open for more than 2 hours.
  • Always buy refrigerated eggs and use it within 3 to 5 weeks.

7) Keep Things Separate

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Use a different cutting board for seafood, raw meat, and poultry. Keep foods like raw meat, seafood, eggs, poultry, and their juices away from other foods. Always wash the plate that held raw food before you use it for something else. Also, make sure not to let cooked food be mixed with the marinate of the raw meat.

Foods That Are Off-Limits While Pregnant

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Certain Fish:

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  • Though fish is a great source of protein and nutrients, certain fish can be high in mercury. Pregnant women should avoid eating fish such as marlin, big eye tuna, swordfish, king mackerel, orange roughy, shark, and Gulf of Mexico tilefish, according to the U.S. Department of Health And Human Services (3).
  • It’s also recommended to avoid eating sushi and sashimi during pregnancy as they are raw and may contain parasites.
  • Avoid eating raw shellfish such as clams, oysters, and crabs.

Undercooked/Raw Eggs:

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Eating undercooked and raw eggs can lead to food poisoning as it can contain Salmonella bacteria (4). Here is a list of food items to avoid which contains undercooked or raw eggs:

  • cake batter
  • cookie dough
  • eggnog
  • tiramisu
  • hollandaise sauce
  • lightly scrambled eggs
  • egg with a runny yolk – can be poached or fried
  • salad dressings with egg
  • artisan/homemade ice cream

Undercooked Sprouts And Greens:

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It’s best to avoid raw or undercooked sprouts as it may contain Salmonella or E Coli bacteria. Sprouts are great to add to your diet, but always make sure that it’s cooked properly.

Pregnancy might give you weird cravings and you may crave for street foods as well. And other times you won’t have the patience to wait for the food to cook thoroughly. But taking that few extra minutes will ensure a safe pregnancy. And when eating out or ordering takeout, always check the hygiene of the place.

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