Thanksgiving is a time to gather with family and friends and celebrate. Typically these celebrations center around food and lots of it. The problem is that in pregnancy, some of these foods may be hazardous to you and your baby. Stay safe this Thanksgiving by avoiding the following foods:
Your turkey needs to be thoroughly cooked. This means that the inside of your bird needs to reach at least 180 degrees. If it doesn't, the meat may be undercooked, leaving you at risk for salmonella or toxoplasmosis.
If you're like me, you enjoy baking for the holidays. I love to make pumpkin pies, cookies and cakes. Just be watchful that you don't sample the batter. Remember that raw eggs are putting you at risk for salmonella. Try snacking on some sliced fruit or nuts as you bake and wait until your baking is done before sampling.
Soft or Unpasteurized Cheeses
There is nothing as yummy as a big tray full of hors d'oeuvres like fruit and soft cheeses. However, in pregnancy these cheeses are off limits due to the risk of listeria. So avoid cheeses like Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, Gorgonzola, Havarti, Muenster, and Roquefort. Don't fear, there are some safe cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss.
Stuffing Cooked in a Turkey
This year skip the stuffing of the turkey and make your stuffing or dressing outside in a pot or pan. Stuffing that is cooked inside the bird runs the risk of being contaminated by undercooked meat as well as not getting hot enough on the inside to destroy those germs.
Homemade Sauces & Creams
Traditional family sauces like Hollandaise sauce, creams or ice cream can be made with unpasteurized eggs. This increases the risk of salmonella. Consider using a pasteurized egg product like Egg Beaters instead to add safety to your holiday cooking.
If your family is serving up hot or cold cider, skip it if it's homemade or made from unpasteurized products. The risk here is from E. coli. Try hot chocolate or a commercially prepared version this year.
These needs to be thoroughly washed before you eat them. They can be exposed to toxoplasmosis in the dirt, and if not properly washed, you're also exposed. Take charge of washing them yourself to ensure a good, thorough washing.
Looking at some lox or smoked salmon? Unless you know it's from a can, skip it. Those products found in the refrigerated section of the grocery can be contaminated with listeria. The same goes for pate. There is a really good vegetarian pate recipe you could try instead, we find it commercially prepared with beans.
Don't be tempted to "celebrate" with alcohol and watch for hidden alcohol in drinks. If you want a fun substitute, consider virgin recipes or sparkling cider. (Review: The Newly Non-Drinking Girls' Guide to Pregnancy)
General Food Safety
Remember to wash your hands before, during and after food preparation to avoid germs and contaminating other foods. Thoroughly clean surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw meats. When it's all said and done, be sure to get food into the refrigerator within two hours for maximum safety.
Related: Avoiding Food Hazards in Pregnancy