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Practicing Food Safety While You're Pregnant


pregnant woman washing food in sink, man chopping vegatables



Food safety is extra important when you're pregnant.  

Follow these tips to avoid bacteria and parasites that may make you sick and affect your unborn baby.

Pregnant women are at increased risk for listeriosis, a serious illness linked to some foods. Follow these safety guidelines to reduce your risk of listeriosis and other food-borne illnesses.

Wash hands, food and surfaces

  • Wash your hands well with soap and warm water after going to the toilet, changing diapers, touching pets and before and after preparing food. 
  • Use regular soap. Plain soap works just as well as antibacterial soap, which isn’t needed because it leads to bacterial resistance. If you touch raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs , wash your hands well before handling other foods.
  • Wash raw vegetables well. Use a brush to remove visible soil.
  • Wash and sanitize utensils and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. To sanitize, use one teaspoon of household bleach in one litre of water. 
  • Change dishcloths and towels daily.

Carefully prepare food 

  • Keep uncooked meats and seafood separate from vegetables and other ready to eat foods during meal preparation.
  • Never leave food in open cans. Store it in covered containers.
  • Check the safety seal when you open a new food product. Do not use if the safety seal is broken.

Keep hot food hot, and cold foods cold

  • Ensure hot food is kept at 60°C or above and cold food is kept at 4°C or below.
  • Don't allow raw or cooked foods to sit at room temperature longer than 2 hours.
  • Don't eat undercooked meat or egg dishes. Internal temperatures (checked with a food thermometer) should be at least 74°C. 
  • Eat cooked food promptly. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. Don't keep cooked food in the fridge for more than two days.

For more information about food safety, visit Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency websites.

Resources and Links:
Food Safety During Pregnancy
Health Canada: Cooking Temperatures

Last Updated: August 4, 2013