Summer Gatherings Are All About The Noshing, But When You’Re Expecting, Knowing What You Are Reaching For Before You Hit The Picnic Table Is More Important When Temperatures Rise. Harmful Bacteria Can Spring Up Where It’S Least Expected, Causing

Wondering what foods are safe to eat during pregnancy? Summer gatherings are all about the noshing, but when you’re expecting, knowing what you are reaching for before you hit the picnic table is more important when temperatures rise. Harmful bacteria can spring up where it’s least expected which can cause food poisoning. Find out what foods you should avoid -- and what you should stock up on -- at that next family picnic.
Michelle Maffei

“Most food poisoning does not affect a pregnancy other than causing intermittent dehydration, which can cause possible preterm labor,” advises Dr. Brad Douglas, a Board Certified OB/GYN and Women’s Health Expert on

Many instances of food poisoning are caused by improper food handling, so with a little information about the right preparation you can reduce the chances that you and your bun in the oven will be a victim of ill-fated bacteria. So, when dining al fresco, be it at a backyard barbeque or at a 4th of July picnic, be aware of these common dangers that may lurk in common summer foods.

Don’t hold the mayonnaise
Potato salad and egg salad are common culprits for harboring bacteria that is sure to crash your summer gathering. But, contrary to popular believe, it is not the mayo that is the bad guy here; potatoes and eggs are actually the ingredients that cultivate the bacteria and can make you sick. Mayonnaise is actually acidic and when commercially produced, can protect that precious potato or egg salad you’re craving.

So long as the ingredients used are all well cooked, pasteurized, and well chilled, that potato and egg salads should be safe in which to indulge.

BBQ delights
Food prepared on the BBQ can be the perfect main dish at any summer get-together, so long as you get your meat cooked well done. Steaks, chicken, and burgers should be cooked all the way through to kill the bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus, which affects unrefrigerated and improperly refrigerated meats.

So, even if you are craving a juicy steak cooked medium, save your request for your first meal after your sweet pea makes her grand entrance into the world.

What about subs and deli platters?
Soft cheeses and deli meats are known to grace many summer picnic tables, whether it be on an appetizer tray or a 3-foot submarine sandwich. But, before you pile up your plate, know the bacteria Listeria is commonly associated with these deli delights.

“Fever, chills and back pain may occur as presenting features of [Listeria] in pregnant women; a nonspecific flu-like illness is the most common presentation,” reports Dr. Douglas. “Listeria in a pregnant woman can lead to fetal death, premature birth or an infected newborn.” So, if you are set on sinking your teeth into this fare, be sure to heat it up to steaming and enjoy it as a melt.

Just right
As a general rule, keep cold foods chilled below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or heated above 140 degrees Fahrenheit to prohibit bacteria from sprouting up in your summer picnic foods. Foods at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria.

You can dig in to properly-prepared foods for about two hours after they are put on the table, unless the weather rises above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, in which you should take a pass on foods that have been out for more than an hour.

Safe alternatives
Even if you choose to skip on the above common summer cuisine, it doesn’t mean that you have to go hungry. Other common outdoor treats, like cookies, breads, rolls, and crackers can be munched without much risk of food poisoning (so long as cross-contamination has not occurred). Other foods, such as ketchup, mayo, and mustard are also safe, thanks to their acidity, so layer on the condiments like there’s no tomorrow.

What about drinking alcohol, such as wine or beer? Find out here more info on drinking alcohol during pregnancy.
Overall, foods you choose to eat should be kept well refrigerated or heated, and the raw food should be kept separate from the cooked food. But, with safe food handling and proper preparation, you, too, can enjoy a summer cook out with baby on board!

More on a healthy pregnancy diet:

-- How many extra calories needed when pregnant?

-- 10 Foods every pregnant woman should eat

-- Beating bloating and gas during pregnancy

-- Can you eat sushi during pregnancy? What about soft cheeses?

Tags: cheese hamburger steak sushi

recommended for you