During pregnancy, women and their unborn children are more likely to become very ill from food poisoning. A woman’s immune system changes during pregnancy, making it harder to fight off certain harmful foodborne infections. Use the following rules to reduce risk of harm to mother and her unborn child.
It seems so simple, but it really does work. Proper hand-washing may eliminate nearly half of all potential cases of foodborne illness. It also significantly reduces the spread of the common cold and flu. Remember: wash your hands before, during and after meal preparation, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets. Use warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds. And use a clean, dry towel to dry your hands
First, make sure your refrigerator works. Set it cooler than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. And your freezer should be 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer and check it regularly.
Then, use your refrigerator properly. Put perishable foods in the refrigerator as soon as you get home from the store. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours. When outdoor temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer, refrigerate leftovers within one hour. Discard perishable foods left at room temperature longer than these limits. Store foods in small, shallow containers (2 inches deep or less). Discard opened packages of luncheon meats or spreads after three to five days. Eat foods by the “use-by” date on the package. If that date has passed, throw it away.
Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator, in cold water (change water every 30 minutes to keep it cold) or in the microwave right before cooking. Do not leave frozen foods on the counter or in the sink to thaw, because that would give foods enough time at a “danger zone” temperature for harmful bacteria to grow.
Prevent cross-contamination by keeping raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods. Use two cuttings boards: one strictly for raw meat, poultry and seafood; the other for ready-to-eat foods such as breads and vegetables. Wash cutting boards thoroughly in hot, soapy water after each use or place in dishwasher. Discard old cutting boards that have cracks, crevices and knife scars.
Proper cooking temperatures kill harmful bacteria present in food. Always use a meat thermometer to check the doneness of meat, poultry, seafood and dishes containing eggs. Use the following guide to internal temperatures foods should reach to be safe:
In addition to keeping good food safety habits, there are certain foods that pregnant women should not eat:
*Although certain forms of fish listed above pose risk during pregnancy, seafood provides omega-3 fatty acids that are valuable for a baby’s brain development. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding consume at least 8 to 12 ounces of a variety of lower mercury seafood each week.
Some ready-to-eat foods require reheating before use. These foods include hot dogs, luncheon and deli meats and fermented and dry sausages. Throw away packaged items once the “use-by” date has passed.