Imagine the following scenario: you are enjoying an evening out to dinner, and everything has gone very well. The menu is once again handed out to you so that you can choose a dessert. But actually, you don't need to think about that because if there's anything certain in life, it's what you want for dessert. You're about to finally give in to that nagging pregnancy craving and tell the waiter you'd like to order a cheese plate. But then...just in time, you feel a kick in the gut! Oh yes, you are pregnant! A.k.a. you can't eat everything. This also means you have to leave out certain beloved fromages for a while. Disappointing. And annoying for your partner, who will have to look at a sour face for the rest of the evening. And confusing for the waiter, who doesn't understand the frustrated look in your eyes. But aren't there certain cheeses that you can still eat during pregnancy? We found out for you!
Raw milk cheeses and pasteurized cheeses
Let's start with the good news: figuring out which cheeses you can still eat during pregnancy and which you can't is absolutely not rocket science. What's important here is the (crucial) difference between raw milk cheeses and pasteurized cheeses.
Raw milk cheeses: not safe
Whenever you see terms like "au lait cru" or "made from raw milk" on the packaging of cheese, alarm bells should ring: these cheeses are best skipped during pregnancy. Completely. Completely. Totally. Let these be red flags. This is because raw milk cheeses are made from raw milk, which can contain the listeria bacteria. Just by reading the word bacteria, you'll probably be all too happy to leave these cheeses. And especially if you know that the listeria bacteria can lead to a miscarriage or premature birth through an infection. So for now say "no thanks" to these cheeses. There will be plenty of times when you can endlessly devour these cheeses!
Are you planning to use these cheeses in a hot dish? Then you can eat this cheese carefree, because heating it above 85 degrees kills the listeria bacteria. So you don't have to prepare another dish for yourself when you have a party over ;)
Pasteurized cheeses: safe
Fortunately, there are also cheeses that you can continue to eat without conditions (read: heating) during pregnancy: pasteurized cheeses. These cheeses are made from pasteurized milk, which means that any bacteria in the milk can no longer cause any damage. And thus also not to your baby!
Which cheeses can I eat and which ones can't I eat during pregnancy?
To make things as easy as possible for you, we have put together a handy list of various cheeses, so that you know what you can and cannot eat when it comes to fromages during pregnancy. Take it with you to the supermarket and pick out a delicious cheese!
- Hard cheeses (including Parmesan, cheddar, manchego, Dutch mature cheese, young cheese, old cheese, Emmental, and pecorino). Joy. Because Parmesan cheese is not on the black list. Thank goodness, because you can probably think of about 100 recipes where this is delicious. And what are nachos without cheddar? Just thank the acidity of these hard cheeses, because it doesn't give the listeria bacteria a chance!
- Goat cheese. Your mouth starts watering at the thought of goat cheese with honey. And you can just keep doing that during pregnancy, since goat's cheese seems to be immune to the listeria bacteria so far. You can also distinguish between hard and soft goat's cheese, whereby hard goat's cheese is preferred during pregnancy. Still in doubt? Then heat the goat's cheese. This will certainly make all your worries disappear.
- Feta. Making a Greek salad on a summer day? Then feel free to add a generous portion of feta to it. Feta is usually made of pasteurized milk, which makes this type of cheese safe for pregnant ladies. Still, always check the packaging of feta to be 100% sure it is pasteurized feta.
- Mozzarella and burrata. If during your pregnancy you suddenly get the intense urge to make a Caprese salad (and you should just give in to that, duh), it is recommended to buy the mozzarella at the supermarket. Usually, the mozzarella and burrata you can get at the supermarket are made from pasteurized milk, so you don't have to worry about the listeria bacteria. So enjoy your Caprese salad carefreely!
- Roquefort. Is this sheep cheese your pregnancy craving? Then gather all your self-control and leave this delicious cheese in the supermarket for the time being. This cheese is unpasteurized. Although the listeria bacteria have never shown up in this cheese, you do not want to take any risks. Better safe than sorry!
- Blue-veined cheeses (including gorgonzola, fourme d'Ambert, cabrales, Blue Stilton and magor). Big fan of blue-veined cheeses? You can enjoy the pasteurized varieties without a care in the world. Add a non-alcoholic drink and imagine yourself abroad on your own terrace.
- Soft cheeses (including brie, camembert, munster, kernhem, and cream cheese). Yep, you know the drill: are they pasteurized? Then you can go ahead!