Can you eat cheese when pregnant?
The good news is, being pregnant doesn’t mean you have to give up your cheese habit completely (rejoice!). But in some cheese there can be a bacteria called listeria, which can be harmful to your unborn baby. Although infection with listeria (listeriosis) is rare, it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth and severe long-term health problems – so it's just not worth taking the risk. Find out which cheese you can plough on with, and which to steer clear of.
By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Mar 20, 2023
Certain types of cheese are off the menu for nine months, namely those with a high water or mould content, including soft cheese with blue mould, uncooked soft white cheese, and unpasteurised goat’s cheese – these should all be avoided during pregnancy.
What cheese can't you eat during pregnancy?
- Soft cheese with blue mould such as Roquefort, Danish blue, and gorgonzola should be avoided completely.
- Soft cheeses with a white mould rind such as brie and camembert are also off the menu unless they have been cooked at a very high temperature – above 70 degrees celsius.
- Goat's cheese and cheese made from sheep are often unpasteurised.
However hard cheese (cheddar and parmesan) and those made with pasteurised milk, like feta, are ok to eat. As are processed cheeses, spreads and desserts made with pasteurised cheese.
Can you eat goat's cheese when pregnant?
You must not eat the goat's cheese commonly called “chèvre” and often served in restaurants in salads. If you see “goat's cheese salad” on a menu, chèvre is probably what will be used, so play safe and avoid it.
The NHS advise, however, that you can eat cooked goat's cheese, as it comes in tarts and pizzas. Cooking all the way through, so it’s steaming hot, kills any bacteria which could be harmful. Plus, this makes it taste delicious.
Can you eat feta cheese when pregnant?
As long as it's been made with pasteurised milk, feta is safe to eat during pregnancy. The same rule applies to halloumi – which is also made with ewe's milk – mozzarella and ricotta. These cheeses do not pose a risk to you or your baby as long as they are pasteurised.
Most cheese bought from major supermarkets and household brands will be pasteurised – and if they’re not, it should be listed on the label. Always check the label to be on the safe side. If you’re shopping at a farmers' market or deli, then ask the supplier if the cheese is pasteurised – they should know the details of its production.
Can you eat brie and camembert when pregnant?
Soft cheeses with a white mould rind, such as brie, camembert and chèvre (as mentioned above as a goat's cheese), should not be eaten during pregnancy unless they have been cooked at a very high temperature.
These cheeses contain bacteria which could cause listeriosis and, although infection is rare (there were 169 cases in the UK in 2015), it’s worth noting that pregnant women are 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis.
You can have soft cheeses if you cook them until they're piping hot, so you could bake a Camembert and dip bread into it. Yum!
Cooking soft cheese (on its own or as part of a dish) at above 70°C should kill any potentially harmful bacteria, but do check it is hot all the way through before consuming.
The same goes for soft cheeses with blue mould such as Roquefort, Danish blue, and gorgonzola. Avoid them when you’re pregnant, unless they have been cooked thoroughly.
Don’t be put off, though, as there are plenty of tasty cooked cheese recipes to keep you going.
Can you eat Philadelphia when pregnant?
Yes, this and other cream cheese is pasteurised so you’ll be fine to eat it – and you could even use it to make a tasty cheesecake. Speaking of which…
Can you eat cheesecake when pregnant?
As long as the cheese, and any other dairy ingredient, used to make the cheesecake is pasteurised, you are safe to eat this dessert throughout pregnancy. Your standard supermarket cheesecake will be made with pasteurised cheese and pasteurised egg, so will be absolutely fine.
One of my best friends is French and she snorts with derision at the very idea of giving up any cheese.
If you’re getting something more upmarket from a bakery, patisserie or restaurant then ask about the ingredients. Cheesecake is sometimes made with mascarpone or ricotta which, as mentioned above, are ok when pasteurised. Really, it all comes down to that 'P' word.
Can you eat cheddar and parmesan when pregnant?
Hard cheeses such as cheddar, parmesan and edam are probably your safest bet for any pregnancy cheese binges, as they do not provide the right environment for listeria to grow, even if they're made with unpasteurised milk.
Even hard blue cheeses, including stilton, are considered safe to eat during pregnancy as the risk of listeria remains very low.
If you're planning a meal, make sure you know which other foods you should avoid during pregnancy – and which tasty dishes are OK to curb any weird pregnancy cravings with.