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Listeria risk

Listeria is a common bacterium (bug) which is widely found in dust, soil, water, plants, sewage and animal droppings. Most people are not harmed by it, but for pregnant women, older people and people with a lowered immunity, it can cause serious problems.

Listeria can be transmitted to pregnant women through infected food. The bug has been found in a variety of foods at all stages of preparation, from raw to well-cooked leftovers. Listeria will still grow on food which is stored in a fridge.

Safe and nutritious foods to eat when pregnant

  • Most foods which have been thoroughly cooked (until piping hot) and eaten straight away.
  • Vegetables and fruit which have been well washed.
  • All tinned foods.
  • Breads and cereals (without added mock creams or custards).
  • Dried food (fruit, nuts, lentils, beans etc).
  • Pasteurised milk and milk products - yoghurt, cheese, etc.

Unsafe foods to eat when pregnant

  • Chilled pre-cooked seafood products, unless eaten hot.
  • Pate, pre-cooked chicken, ham and other chilled pre-cooked meat products. Cook any left-over foods or ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs, until steaming hot before eating.
  • Uncooked seafoods.
  • Stored salads and coleslaws, especially from delicatessens or supermarkets.
  • Raw (unpasteurised) milk or foods made from raw milk.

Safe ways to handle food at home

  • Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables, cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods. Uncooked meats should also be well wrapped or covered.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards thoroughly with hot water and soap after handling uncooked foods.
  • Cook left-over foods or ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs, until steaming hot before eating.
  • Take special care when using a microwave to heat foods all the way through until it is piping hot.
  • Wash all fresh food carefully before eating it.

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