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Feta cheese etc OK when pregnant?

(68 Posts)
sprout Fri 28-Mar-03 14:32:34

I'm confused! Lots of on-line information sources and books say you should avoid blue-veined cheeses, ones like Brie & Cammembert, and Feta, as well as cheese made with unpasteurised milk when pg because of the risk of listeriosis. I've just asked my gynae, who said I only need to avoid things made from unpasteurised milk, but all the rest is OK. How do I know who to believe?

GRMUM, if you're out there, what do they tell pg women in Greece? Is feta OK or not?

jessi Fri 28-Mar-03 14:42:56

sprout you've got me worried now! I just had a feta cheese salad for lunch and am 27 weeks! It never occured to me feta was no go, hope someone who knows answers soon.

lou33 Fri 28-Mar-03 14:46:58

It never occured to me about feta either when I was pg, which was probably just as well because it was what I craved all the way through. I ate it almost daily. You can get various forms of feta in the supermarkets though, so maybe there is one which will be ok.

I seem to be good at craving things that are not allowed, the time before it was margaritas! Couldn't track any down luckily enough or it would have been very hard not to give in.

lucy123 Fri 28-Mar-03 15:05:28

sprout - I was told what your gaenacologist said - that you should avoid unpasteurised cheeses, but not the other ones you mention. Perhaps your other sources suggest avoiding those because they sometimes are made using unpasteurised milk?

Katherine Fri 28-Mar-03 15:32:19

I'd check on the packet. If you get things from supermarkets then they are often pasteurised (sp!) anyway. And even if they weren't you would have to be very lunlucky to get something which was contaminated. Remember this is a precaution rather than an essential so there is no need to panic.

forest Fri 28-Mar-03 20:52:18

Can you really eat Brie and Stilon then? They are 2 cheeses I love but have avoided them as I thought you couldn't eat them. As to feta I don't know. I was having this conversation with another pregnant friend today and she was of the opinion you couldn't eat it whereas I thought you could! Also she mentioned you shouldn't eat goats cheese - can you?

Oakmaiden Fri 28-Mar-03 21:08:18

Current advice (from the FSA) is to that"In order to avoid the risk of listeriosis pregnant women are advised to avoid eating ripened soft cheeses of the Brie, Camembert and blue veined types, whether pasteurised or unpasteurised." Feta, sadly, counts as a ripened soft cheese.

Apparently a pregnant woman has a far higher chance (*20) of becoming ill from listeriosis than a non-pregnant person. Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, premature labour and (I think I remember) stillbirth. However - just because you eat feta it doesn't mean that you WILL get listeriosis - and even if you do, it doesn't mean you will necessarily suffer extreme consequences. But there is a risk that you should be aware of before you decide what to eat. :-)

Wills Fri 28-Mar-03 21:09:49

The bbc food website is currently doing a one page review on what not to eat when pregnant. Talks about cheeses. Hope they don't mind this:

"Be warned that all soft, moist, mould-ripened, blue-veined cheeses, be they pasteurised or unpasteurised, and particularly rindless ones, provide a fertile breeding ground for this bacterium, making it important to avoid such cheeses completely until your baby's born. (Cottage cheese and other soft, processed cheeses are risk-free, however, as are unpasteurised hard cheeses like Pecorino, Manchego and Parmesan, along with pasteurised hard cheeses like Cheddar, which makes a savoury, sustaining lunch or snack when toasted on wholegrain bread and topped with roasted tomatoes.)"

Hope they don't mind and HTH

Wills Fri 28-Mar-03 21:11:01

I avoided Feta on the basis that I'm one of those people that the moment I take a chance it ALWAYS backfires. Its a shame because I adore Feta

SueW Fri 28-Mar-03 23:03:50

I was flicking through Jane Clarke's Body Foods for Life in WHS the other day and she suggests, IIRC, that cutting the rind off soft cheeses significantly reduces the risk of listeria.

Best to check it out in the book though. I have been known to mis-remember

GRMUM Sun 30-Mar-03 12:19:37

Hi Sprout.I was never told to avoid feta, only to avoid blue cheeses.I've just rung a few other friends and nobody has been told to avoid feta.I will try and find out more though.

Marina Sun 30-Mar-03 19:49:58

Wills, I could kiss you. We've been using Pecorino and I DIDN'T think to check if it was OK. I somehow felt because of its extreme hardness, it was, but how nice to see it written down. Jury still out on feta, it seems.

Oakmaiden Sun 30-Mar-03 20:27:04

Well, the only site I found that specifically mentioned feta had it on the "aviod" list. It was a US site - http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/pubs/lm_tearsheet.pdf

clucks Mon 31-Mar-03 00:20:59

I have been stuffing myself with Feta this time, although avoided all soft cheeses last time. I think the m/w confused me by telling me to avoid blue-veined and unpasturised. I think all is well but will miss my cheese.

sprout Mon 31-Mar-03 08:00:59

Well, thanks for all those comments. I can't say I'm any the wiser (still confused!), but I suppose it comes down to just how cautious you want to be. There seem to be some obvious culprits (non pasteurised milk etc) and some ones with a lower, but still present, risk. Just to add to my paranoia I discovered yesterday, that the hard, prepacked Emmentaler cheese in our fridge (substitute for Cheddar, which is hard to get in Belgium) was made from un-pasteurised milk... Agggh!
I guess I'll just have to bite the bullet and stick to Philadelphia for 9 months, but what about our holiday in Greece...?

Marina Mon 31-Mar-03 08:56:33

Sprout, isn't President pre-packed Emmental made from pasteurised milk? It's widely available in France, I know. Agree it is not really the same as "real" Emmenthal though.

GRMUM Mon 31-Mar-03 11:31:04

A friend of mine asked her gynaecologist(female and european but not Greek) this morning about this.She said feta is fine if its from pasturised milk.Which would,I think, include most fetas sold outside Greece as they will be pre-packaged.Check the pack it should say if its made with pasturised milk.To anyone coming here on holiday I would suggest being more careful in tavernas (especially small ones in little out of the way villages) as they are more likely to be offering locally made feta from non-pasturised milk.Over here I would say if in doubt resist.HTH

Rkayne Mon 31-Mar-03 11:38:25

I remember asking this the first time I was pregnant and the answer was the feta is ok as it is not a soft ripened cheese or a blue-veined cheese. It is actually a hard cheese and as long as it's pastuerized it's fine. I had a list the last time and feta was specifically mentioned as being ok, but now I can't remember where that list came from!

in any case I went through Greek salad craving for a few weeks early in this preg. and it certainly hasn't done me any harm!

NQWWW Mon 31-Mar-03 14:33:09

I've been avoiding feta cheese without really knowing whether I should be, even though I've been craving it (and halloumi cheese even more so - does anyone know about this?).

Wish I'd read Wills' post re parmesan earlier as I've been avoiding that too.

Wills Mon 31-Mar-03 16:52:56

RKayne, its not that all unpasturised cheese will harm you or the baby just that they have a higher risk. A friend of mine refused point blank to make any changes to her diet and continued eating soft eggs and cheese all the way through. I just feel that I'm one of those people that the moment I take a risk something is bound to happen. Wish I had the same luck on the lottery.

WideWebWitch Mon 14-Jul-03 14:08:58

Is it OK to eat Prosciutto? Eek, I've just eaten a roll containing 2 slices of it and it didn't cross my mind til it was too late. Ditto 'proper' French dry cured pork salami, I've just eaten some of that too (and have eaten quite a bit of it this pregnancy, didn't cross my mind that I shouldn't until now). It's too late to worry about what I've already eaten but I'd still like to know. Also, what is the disease one's risking with it if it is banned? TIA to anyone who knows.

bells2 Mon 14-Jul-03 14:49:34

Hi WWW. Prosciutto and parma ham etc are usually recommended as foods to be avoided during pregnancy because of the small risk of contracting toxoplasmosis as the meat is cured but not cooked as such. If however you have you have previously made a habit of eating rare meat, you will in all likelihood have already been exposed and so will be immune. I wouldn't worry too much about it if I were you.

LucieB Mon 14-Jul-03 15:55:48

I bought some Feta from Sainsburys last week and it was made with pasteurised milk so am sure its ok. Ate it at a BBQ on Sat and feel fine!!!

princesspeahead Mon 14-Jul-03 16:17:52

Interesting thread as I ate Feta and prosciutto for lunch! I'm greek and have been eating feta throughout on the basis that what I've eaten has been pasteurised. I don't really think of it as a soft cheese. I can't imagine it is risky for listeriosis if it is pasteurised, is it?

Oh dear. I've been going through several packets a week - greek salad is the only thing I've felt like eating in this heat. Oh, and watermelon!

nobby Mon 14-Jul-03 16:38:26

I've been eating both halloumi and feta - but making sure that both are made with pasteurised milk. I'm really craving halloumi at the moment in particular - barbecued with slices of aubergine (yum). I've gone off most meats this pregnancy so I needed a barbecue substitute...

I reckoned they were fine if pasteurised although I don't eat them when I'm out. God, I hope so.

karenanne Mon 14-Jul-03 16:43:52

this has confused me too throughout my pregnancy.i went to greece on holiday back in may and ate quite a bit of cheese on pizzas and loads of gyros which has yoghurts and feta in it.was about 6 weeks pregnant then but just couldnt help myself.was perfectly fine though.wondered if they have all these 'what not to eat'lists in mediterranean countries?

karenanne Mon 14-Jul-03 16:44:18

this has confused me too throughout my pregnancy.i went to greece on holiday back in may and ate quite a bit of cheese on pizzas and loads of gyros which has yoghurts and feta in it.was about 6 weeks pregnant then but just couldnt help myself.was perfectly fine though.wondered if they have all these 'what not to eat'lists in mediterranean countries?

whymummy Mon 14-Jul-03 16:53:35

they don`t in spain karenanne,i told my pregnant friend about pate and brie and she laughed at me as those were her two cravings

tinyfeet Mon 14-Jul-03 17:32:39

Did someone already ask about tunafish? Is it okay?

Oakmaiden Mon 14-Jul-03 18:26:40

Current tuna fish recommendations are when pregnant or breastfeeding to eat no more than one fresh tuna steak or 2 tins (of the ordinary tuna size) in a week - because of the high levels of mercury.

tinyfeet Mon 14-Jul-03 19:29:12

Thanks Oakmaiden. I've definitely been eating more than 2 cans a week - I've been craving tuna sandwiches every day. I'll switch to chicken salad.

WideWebWitch Mon 14-Jul-03 19:48:28

Thanks bells. Oh dear, I've been eating loads of salami, I don't know why but it didn't occur to me it wasn't cooked. Durr. I haven't eaten any beef or tuna because I'd usually have both of them cooked very very rare, well, blue actually (pretty much sushi in the case of the tuna) so I guess my body is pretty used to rare meat. OK, I'll stop eating it and assume I'm ok though with what I've eaten so far. Roll on November.

Oakmaiden Mon 14-Jul-03 19:58:01

The only problem with the salami is the danger of food poisoning - if you haven't had food poisoning from it then it has done no harm at all!

happyspider Mon 14-Jul-03 20:09:29

I have had salami throughout my pg and gave birth last month to a healthy baby boy, in mediterranean countries they don't stop eating cured ham whilst pg as this part of their staple diet.
guess their body must be used to it...

marsup Thu 24-Jul-03 14:36:38

I recently met a Japanese woman who laughed at me when I said women here were told not to eat sushi when pregnant. But I guess it's safer to eat sushi in Japan than in England.

Utka Thu 24-Jul-03 15:43:38

A few years back I had a French colleague who became pregnant. To congratulate her, all her French friends clubbed together and sent her a whole Brie and a case of top notch red wine. She said that in France, women are encouraged to eat a small piece of this kind of cheese and drink a glass of wine 'for medicinal purposes'. Has anyone else come across this/!!

pupuce Thu 24-Jul-03 19:10:11

In France and Belgium you can eat everything (or just about) in pregnancy but in my experience they have less case of food poisoning !
You can eat all cheeses (sometimes crust is not recommended), you can eat rare meat (or even steak tartare).... the Brits are very different in that regard. And in those country not only can you eat more (and they also generally tend to eat more fruit and veg) they give you vitamin supplement for pregnancy too!!!

sprout Fri 25-Jul-03 10:29:55

Pupuce, they won't let you eat raw/undercooked meat in Belgium if you test negative for toxoplasmosis, nor raw salad/vegetables, nor cheese made from unpasteurised milk. This is my 2nd pg of having to be careful. But you're quite right that otherwise people are much more laid back, don't worry about salmonella or lysteria, let you eat soft cheeses, advise you to drink red wine to keep up your iron levels , and don't ask you before lighting up .

pupuce Fri 25-Jul-03 17:54:48

But in B most people have had toxoplasmosis (hence they get tested in pregnancy to check if they are noit immune).
If you are not immune then all advice like in the UK apply... AND MORE - you do get told to ensure all vegetables have been washed before eating - never heard that here !!!

sprout Tue 29-Jul-03 09:13:11

True, Pupuce. And the salad/veg bit is the worst to be strict about in the summer. Do I take it you think the advice is a bit exaggerated and I could loosen up a bit? I'd love to...

pupuce Tue 29-Jul-03 12:36:32

Sprout -were you tested for Toxoplasmosis ? Are you not immune to it?
If not well.... I believe the risk is that the vegetrables are not clean and that they may have been contaminated with cat foeces (sp?)... - not sure if there is other reason....in the UK most women are NOT toxoplasmosis immune and they do not get told to wash vegetables and I have no reason to believe they are more hygiene conscious an would automatically wash their veg.... or am I wrong about the Brits ????

A foetus who's mum has toxoplasmosis in pregnacy can be severely damaged.

bunnyrabbit Tue 29-Jul-03 12:44:32

Just picking up on this thread... I didn't even know you could be tested for Toxoplasmosis and that you could have an immunity to it. All the literature I've read has said it's important to wash all veg and fruit and not to eat ready made salads, or cheese or meat of the deli counter.

Don't quite know what I'm supposed to eat for my lunch then as I'm still working!!

Oh, I'm in the UK...

BR

pupuce Tue 29-Jul-03 13:14:07

Yes you can be tested for it and to my knowledge all ppregnant women in Belgium are. Once you had it (I did) you can't have it again.

sprout Tue 29-Jul-03 13:23:54

Yes, bunnyrabbit and Pupuce - in Belgium they test for it routinely, as soon as you know you're pg or sometimes even before. If you're not immune (like me), they then test every month throughout the pg. Toxo is apparently quite common here so the large majority have already had it. I guess with all the stray cats hanging around our vegetable patch, I'd better keep being careful (and yes, of course I wash the veg first before eating it! ).

pupuce Tue 29-Jul-03 14:20:26

I don't think Belgian are having toxo becasue of stray cats but because we eat fillet americain (raw meat) or very rare meat...

bunnyrabbit Tue 29-Jul-03 14:31:57

I eat my meat very rare too (blue rare... you know.. still mooing!!). Wonder if I have had it.. shall ask my mw tomorrow why they don't test here and report back.

pupuce Tue 29-Jul-03 14:40:51

They did test me here - I asked when I had my blood test to have it done - they agreed but the GP questioned my request to the MW!
Anyway I am immune...

marsup Tue 29-Jul-03 16:26:37

I have a French book on pregnancy as well as an English one (dh is French) and the French book says to avoid shellfish except for fresh oysers, which are recommended! Perhaps this is because French women are all immune to toxoplasmosis? I wonder if I lived in France for long enough to be able to eat brie now...

aloha Tue 29-Jul-03 17:22:29

Ah but Brie is Listeria, not toxoplasmosis. Sorry!

marsup Wed 30-Jul-03 16:22:53

Great... can one be immune to listeria?

Januarymummy Tue 07-Aug-07 13:41:27

Hi,
I've wondered over here to see if someone can help me as I've been eating feta for weeks and now apparently am told I shouldn't be.
I live in the UK.
I have brought a packet of
SAINS**RYS GREEK STYLE SALAD CHEESE
It doesn't mention pasturised. It is made from Greek cows milk and has a shelf life of two months. Am I being stupid? Do I assume this is pasturised???

Also How would i find out what kind of Feta Nandos use asd I have this awful craving for their mediterranean salad.

Cheers
Charlie 14 + 0

dal21 Tue 07-Aug-07 13:50:52

who told you you couldnt? i have only ever seen feta on the safe cheeses list.

morningglory Tue 07-Aug-07 14:02:16

In France, you can eat a wider variety of food when pregnant than here, but, as in Belgium< they recommend you avoid salads.

I find it strange that they would recommend oysters because it is so easy to get food poisening from oysters! Most people (non-pregnant ones I know) have had bad run ins with oysters...even from reputable places!

Isn't toxo immunity part of the routine bloods here? I'm not certain because I went private with my first, and my ob checked at the first set of bloods, and a second set at about 20 weeks for toxo immunity.

Meglet Tue 07-Aug-07 14:35:26

I would love it if the supermarkets could put a 'safe for pregnant women' logo on their cheeses (like their nut allergy warnings). I spent ages trying to figure out what I could and couldn't eat in the dairy aisle.

cupcake78 Tue 07-Aug-07 14:56:16

I asked my midwife because I was craving it as well. She said best to be avoided even if pasterised as it is classed as a soft cheese.

Hope she is right because I love it and have been avoiding it all the way through.

Hersetta Tue 07-Aug-07 15:20:48

Feta is fine if purchased in the UK (from supermarkets etc) as by law it has to be made from pasturised milk and is therefore perfectly safe - just like cheddar. 'Proper feta' that you would get in greece is made from unpasturised milk and should therefore be avoided.

Caz10 Tue 07-Aug-07 16:06:22

Can't believe I haven't eaten parmesan for 21 wks unneccessarily!!!! I love it too! Had been avoiding because packet said made from unpasturised milk...but does it being a hard cheese make it different?

I agree with what someone further up said - if you eat these things regularly you probably have immunity, like these lucky French pregnant women who can stuff themselves with smelly cheese!!

Martha200 Tue 07-Aug-07 17:39:57

As an side, (marsups post) sushi IS allowed in pregnancy.. as long it is not prepared fresh.. it needs to be frozen first.. eg, a lot of shop sushi is ok, as it is frozen first before it appears on display.

(found that really interesting as I love sushi!)

As for feta.. I read somewhere it was ok, see Hersettas post.. have eaten more than the odd bit!

Popi70 Tue 07-Aug-07 18:14:07

I am Greek and eat feta every other day. When pregnant my mum was told to eat lots of it as a good source for calcium - never broke a bone in my life

aloha Tue 07-Aug-07 18:16:42

Feta fine, all hard cheeses fine (eg parmesan) sushi fine as long as frozen first to kill worms (EEEEEEEEEEEEK!). Sushi makes me shudder though. Food standards website very useful.

macneil Tue 07-Aug-07 18:18:20

I don't recommend it, but in my third trimester, I ate a shitload of sashimi - I was in Vancouver, where the sushi shops are abundant and very fresh. As I didn't get food poisoning, I can only now hope and believe that the baby will have benefited a little from the fish oils. I knew there was some risk, but only of food poisoning at that stage, which would have been worse for me than the baby. And I craved it so much and avoided the mercury-risky fish. I also asked here and an Italian friend about proper buffalo mozzarella and was given the okay for that, which is especially good as it contains 3 times the calcium of cow mozzarella.

claremu Tue 06-May-08 10:52:54

i'm going to be six months pregnant when I go to Crete and I am going to continue to eat feta, blue cheese and anything else I want - you have to remember what the women in other european countries eat and that advice varies internationally - I also eat rw fish, which in Japan they encourage women to do.So far my baby is very healthy and kicking away all the time!

gillythekid Tue 06-May-08 13:27:02

I think the whole food thing is MAD!!!! Stressing about what you are eating/craving/may have eaten will do far more harm to your baby than the food itself. We should all chill out and bear in mind that different countries have different ideas so if I fancy a bit of cooked meat I pretend I'm in Italy. I'm off to France tonight for a glass of red wine and then to Greece tomorrow for a bit of feta salad. Nice.

Essie3 Tue 06-May-08 15:52:09

Ok, to add my little bit! I'm 34 weeks, and have eaten feta and goat's cheese throughout - but I check that it's pasteurised. I'm veggie, and craved feta.
FIL is a retired microbiologist, and BF works in the centre for communicable diseases [access to the databases on these things!]. Both say pasteurised is fine, and FIL encouraged me to eat a goat cheese with a rind but it was cooked! His argument - backed by DH who is a PI lawyer - is that nothing served in a restaurant is likely to be unpasteurised. (Had lunch with a friend who balked at a cheese and colselaw sandwich because of the mayo - as if a packaged sarnie had even been near a raw egg...)
So, feta, hard goat's, soft goats without rind (only occasionally), halloumi...all fine, if pasteurised.

Listeriosis is actually quite rare.
Toxoplasmosis - also rare, and ok if you're immune. I have no idea - not tested - but I imagine, having been brought up on a farm and slept with lambs and kittens (!!), practically ate cowpats etc that I'm good and immune!

I really want to know what European women are told. Actually, I think I'll start a thread.

sweetkitty Tue 06-May-08 15:58:11

Pre DC I was a microbiologist specialising in food safety, I have seen data which shows what happens to Listeris if it is injected into cheeses like Feta. Feta unlike Brie and Camembert is really salty so Listeria cannot grow in it like it can in the other two.

I am pregnant right now and have eaten Feta, Hallomi and goats cheese (not that keen on Brie or camembert to be honest).

The thing is as it is well known that Listeria is a risk in these cheeses they are produced and tested to very high standards and I would bet you would be more likely to find Listeria in a local lettuce than a bit of Brie. Thats from testing experience as well.

hanaflower Tue 06-May-08 16:10:28

Do you think because I have been munching salami and cured meats for ages (lived in Germany), that I will be fine to eat them?

I don't think I can cope on my holiday to Italy without salami - I'm already sad that I have completely gone off coffee.

slinkiemalinki Tue 06-May-08 16:24:18

I assume Brie made from pasteurised milk is OK? How about blue cheese from pasteurised milk (eg Oxford blue) - any ideas?

slinkiemalinki Tue 06-May-08 16:25:52

Pants sorry just read the earlier page. Whoops blush

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