Is Pasteurized Baked Brie Safe to Eat When Pregnant?

By Darlene Peer
Beautiful, warm brie -- you want it but should you eat it?

It is safe to eat baked brie during pregnancy as long as the brie is thoroughly cooked until it's steaming hot. Thorough cooking usually kills bacteria so well-cooked soft cheese, like baked brie or deep-fried camembert, can be eaten. Eating soft cheeses that haven't been cooked risks exposing you to listeria bacteria and listeriosis. Hard cheeses are generally acceptable to eat, though you may want to melt them instead if you're worried.

Listeria

Soft, uncooked cheeses, like brie, may contain listeria bacteria. Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with listeria bacteria and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is dangerous for pregnant women since it can be passed through the placenta to an unborn child. Listeria can start with flu-like symptoms and diarrhea, increasing the risk of miscarriage or still birth. A baby exposed to listeriosis while still in the womb can also be born prematurely or develop serious health problems after birth.

Symptoms to Watch For

Often, the symptoms of listeriosis mimic those of the flu. You may feel chills, have a fever and muscle aches, experience diarrhea or a stomach ache. The real problems show up if the infection spreads into your nervous system. According to the CDC, this can cause a headache and stiff neck, confusion, a loss of balance and convulsions. The symptoms can appear up to two months after you've eaten contaminated food. Listeriosis can be diagnosed by a simple blood test, so if you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor or the emergency room right away. If you're infected, antibiotics can be used to treat both you and your unborn baby.

Other Foods to Avoid

Start by avoiding soft mold-ripened cheeses that are surrounded by rinds or are blue-veined, like brie, camembert, chevre, Danish blue, gorgonzola or roquefort. The CDC also recommends avoiding Mexican-style cheese like queso blanco, queso fresco and Panela unless they are labeled as made from pasteurized milk. Both the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and U.S. Food and Drug Administration advise that pregnant women should avoid hot dogs, luncheon meat and deli meat unless they are steaming hot. Refrigerated smoked seafood sold at deli counters or in the refrigerated section of a grocery store should also be avoided. If you have a tuna or salmon craving, indulge in canned fish. All unpasteurized milk and foods that contain it as an ingredient should be avoided.

Tips

The best advice is to avoid any food that you're uncertain about until you can ask your doctor about it. If you really can't resist giving into that hot dog craving, avoid getting the juice or fluid from the package on utensils, your hands or food preparation surfaces. If you do, wash everything immediately after handling the meat. Use refrigerated perishable food and precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as possible to avoid giving bacteria a chance to grow. No matter how tired you are, clean out the fridge so mold and bacteria can't grow, and keep the fridge set at 40 degrees.

About the Author

Darlene Peer has been writing, editing and proofreading for more than 10 years. Peer has written for magazines and contributed to a number of books. She has worked in various fields, from marketing to business analysis. Peer received her Bachelor of Arts in English from York University.