Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Holiday Foods to Avoid during Pregnancy

I would like to share this article written by Stephanie Miles at babycenter.com on Holiday foods to avoid during pregnancy since Thanksgiving Day is coming so soon.

Even if you've always had a stomach of iron, pregnancy weakens your immune system and makes you more vulnerable to food-borne illnesses that could make you sick and harm your baby. So it's important to avoid certain foods during pregnancy — even on special occasions.

"The risks are real, and need to be taken very seriously," says David Acheson, director and chief medical officer of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Dangerous bacteria and parasites like listeria, toxoplasma, salmonella, staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli can lurk in improperly prepared, cooked, and stored foods. And listeria and toxoplasma can cross your placenta and affect your baby even if you never feel symptoms of the illness yourself.

So if you've always licked the spoon clean of cookie dough, enjoyed Caesar salads with raw egg in the dressing, and ordered your burgers medium rare, pregnancy is a time to rethink these practices and err on the side of food safety, experts say.

Here are some tips to get you through the barbecues of the summer and the holiday buffets of the winter without feeling deprived — or endangering your baby.

Thanksgiving

On Turkey day (as on every other day) it's important to be vigilant against germs and bacteria in the kitchen. Wash your hands frequently when preparing meals and be careful to clean any surface that's come in contact with raw meat or eggs before using it again. Use separate cutting boards for poultry and produce, and keep uncooked poultry and meat chilled in the refrigerator and separate from other food items.

Don't leave leftovers out for more than two hours, and store them in shallow containers so they'll cool quickly. Make sure your refrigerator is set between 35 and 40 degrees F and your freezer at or below zero to keep cold foods from going bad.

Turkey and stuffing: Cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F (use a meat thermometer to check it). If you're preparing stuffing (also known as dressing), cook it outside the turkey in a separate baking dish to 165 degrees F. The inside of a stuffed turkey's cavity doesn't get hot enough to kill off harmful bacteria.

Unpasteurized cider: If hot or cold apple cider is served, make sure it's pasteurized. Unpasteurized juices — including cider — are unsafe during pregnancy because they can contain bacteria like E. coli. (Note: Almost all juice sold is pasteurized — and unpasteurized juice sold in containers is required to carry a warning label.)

Smoked meats and meat spreads: If you're serving meat spreads like pâté, or smoked meats such as smoked salmon, make sure they're canned, not from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Refrigerated meat spreads and smoked meats can contain listeria.

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