Foods to avoid in Pregnancy


The long list given to pregnant women of foods to avoid in pregnancy invariably concerns the bacterial infection listeria. Listeria is an uncommon infection acquired by eating a number of particular food stuffs. However, it is particularly uncommon and with 80,000 live births in Victoria per year, there are only ever a handful of cases of listeria in pregnant women reported.  

The symptoms of a listeria infection include flu like symptoms with fever, chills, aches and pains and diarrhoea. It is important to note that the symptoms may not appear for up to three weeks following ingestion of contaminated food. The foods that have been commonly associated with listeria infection include:   

          Unpasteurised milk products

          Soft cheeses including ricotta and fetta

          Raw seafood including sashimi and oysters

          Unwashed fruit and vegetables

          Deli type meats including salami and hams

          Smoked seafood such as smoked salmon 

The best way to avoid listeria infection is to avoid eating any of these food stuffs, but also to follow some simple rules including: 

          Refrigerate meats and other product at a temperature of less than five degrees celsius

          Well wash raw fruit and vegetables with cold running water

          Thoroughly cook foods

          Refrigerate meat within one hour of cooking it

          Re-heat food until there is a core temperature of seventy five degrees celsius

          Avoid microwave re-heating of foods as this often results in patchy cooking especially of meat products

          Store food in sealed containers

          Undertake routine handwashing 

All of the food stuffs on the avoid list can be eaten if they are adequately heated as listeria is a particularly heat sensitive bacteria.

For any questions or concerns about what you can and cannot eat during pregnancy, discuss this with Len or have a chat to one of our experienced midwives.


Dr Len Kliman is one of Melbourne’s most experienced and respected Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

With over three decades of experience, Dr Kliman has delivered over 20,000 babies and still counting!

In 2017, Dr Kliman was awarded an Order Of Australia Medal for his services to obstetrics and gynaecology.