Safe Food Practices During Pregnancy

Promotion for New Zealand Food Safety

When you’re pregnant, it’s more important than ever that you follow food safety rules, to protect you and your developing baby’s health.

When you’re pregnant your levels of immunity are lower than usual, so you can be more at risk of being affected by food-borne illnesses. While good food hygiene practices are always important, during summer the warmer temperatures can cause bacteria that may have found their way into your food (such as staphylococcus or E. coli) to multiply faster.

Find out what you need to know about ensuring your food is safe for you and your baby with these tips.

Why is food safety so important?

Food can host bacteria such as staphylococcus or E. coli, and in turn these can cause both you and your baby to become very unwell. In extreme cases they can cause serious illness, premature or stillbirths.

Is some food safer than other food?

Some foods are high-risk and therefore it is advised that pregnant people avoid them.  When dining out, choose restaurant and takeaway food that is well-cooked and prepared just before it’s served, steaming hot, to you. Avoid eating food from buffets, smorgasbords, salad bars or street vendors, as risks can be harder to manage.

Avoid these foods at restaurants or from takeaway outlets:

  • raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs (such as mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, caesar dressing, and some desserts)
  • unwashed fruits and vegetables, raw sprouts and raw herbs
  • pre-prepared cold foods such as salads, unrefrigerated sandwiches or sushi
  • undercooked or raw meat, poultry or seafood
  • cold meats, pâté or cold, smoked fish
  • soft cheeses (unless cooked)
  • soft-serve ice cream

Clean, Cook, Chill and don’t get ill

Clean …

Wash your hands carefully before preparing food. To effectively wash your hands, use soap and warm running water and rub vigorously for at least 20 seconds ensuring you get under your fingernails. Dry your hands thoroughly using a clean towel. It’s also important to wash your hands, chopping boards and knives between handling of different ingredients so you’re not cross-contaminating.

Cook …

When cooking poultry use a meat thermometer to check internal temps in the thickest parts reach 75 degrees Celsius or until the juices run clear.

Keep raw and cooked food well apart and thoroughly wash and clean anything that comes into contact with raw meat such as chopping boards, knifes and benches.

Chill …

Don’t leave food out on the bench. Pop it in the fridge within two hours or bin it. If you are in doubt, don’t eat it.

Cool hot food for up to 30 minutes before putting it in the fridge. Make sure all food in the fridge is covered and put raw meat on the bottom shelf to reduce the risk of juices dripping on to other food. Wipe up any drips and spills and don’t overfill the fridge as this can affect temperatures inside. In the summer heat, take a chilly bag and ice packs to the supermarket with you so you can safely transport meat home.

Find out more about food safety

For more food safety tips for when you are pregnant visit

What is your top food handling tip?

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author robynWritten by Robyn

Robyn creates content on Kidspot NZ. Her hobbies include buying cleaning products and wondering why things don’t then clean themselves, eating cheese scones with her friends, and taking her kids to appointments.

Favourite motto to live by: “It’s just a phase.”


  1. Micht 08/03/2020 at 10:10 pm

    Very good to note and take precautions…i know alot of people who dont even know the risks involved and actually do make these mistakes without knowing… i think this education is necessary…i will share with my friends… so much food poisoning and issues like that can be avoided…

  2. Alezandra 08/03/2020 at 12:01 am

    Thanks for the reminder. The cooling for 30 minutes is something I miss and just chuck it in the fridge and that has backfired to me a few times. Food safety is so crucial nowadays. I’ve had food poisoning previously and it wasn’t a nice experience. This is such a good reminder especially with kids.

  3. Mands1980 04/03/2020 at 8:24 pm

    Eating fresh foods not foods that have been sitting around in the fridge or on the bench for periods of time. Also when going out for meals choose wisely to ensure you don’t get sick from eating out.

  4. Bevik1971 28/02/2020 at 10:15 am

    Following food safety practices at all times is very important but even more so during pregnancy. My partner is a chef by trade and is very fussy about food safety at home and out and about. When I was pregnant I was very careful about what I ate and where I ate to be safe.

    • Shorrty4life1 04/03/2020 at 9:52 am

      Great read. It’s not always easy to follow food precaution when you are pregnant as you are so set on what cravings you have. For me my no1 food safety tip would be to make sure that you don’t eat anything the next day that has already been cooked especially chicken. There are such huge risks and even make sure chicken is over cooked because its so much better for it to be over cooked than under cooked.

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