Updated food safety guidance gives pregnant women more certainty and choice on a wider range of foods

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Media contact: MPI media team
Telephone: 029 894 0328

New research from New Zealand Food Safety provides pregnant women with more options and certainty about what they can safely eat with updated tips to avoid foodborne illness.

"We’ve looked at new foods that were not previously considered because we want pregnant women to have the most up-to-date food safety information so they can enjoy a diverse diet and stay healthy," says Dr Claire McDonald, Manager Operational Research at New Zealand Food Safety.

"The guidance reflects the increased diversity in the New Zealand diet. The update not only provides more options, but also ensures all risky foods are captured and provides simple ways to reduce the chance of illness from food," she said.

"It’s important pregnant women know what’s safe to they can avoid dangerous infections, such as listeriosis and toxoplasmosis, which can affect them more severely than non-pregnant women."

Dr McDonald said the key information for women include:

  • thoroughly cooking seed sprouts (such as alfalfa or mung bean) before eating.
  • thoroughly cooking dried herbs before eating.
  • avoiding unpasteurised fruit juices and non-alcoholic cider.
  • avoiding low-acid, soft, pasteurised cheeses like Brie, Camembert, blue cheeses, ricotta, mozzarella, and feta unless they’re cooked.
  • updating guidance on some pasteurised dairy products (i.e. following manufacturer’s labelling advice and “best before” dates, etc.).
  • freshly cooked fish, mussels, oysters, crayfish, scallops, etc., should be cooked thoroughly until piping hot and eaten while hot.
  • whole melons should be washed and dried before cutting.
  • frozen berries should be cooked thoroughly before eating.
  • no restrictions on number of servings per week for gemfish, oreo dories, orange roughy, ling and smooth oreo fish species (previous advice limited the number of servings per week to minimise mercury intake).

"We know more about food safety now than we did just a few a years ago and it's important people educate themselves and take simple steps such as washing produce and cooking certain foods properly," Dr McDonald said.

More information on food and pregnancy

New Zealand Food Safety’s updated food safety guidance for pregnant women – YouTube

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