Being pregnant over the holidays can be tricky to navigate. Holiday parties display a whole feast of yummy goods, some that we typically only see at this time of the year. Here are some tips for you (or your pregnant friends) when preparing, serving or eating holiday foods.
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, 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 juice and cider: If hot or cold apple or other fruit cider is served, make sure it’s pasteurized. Unpasteurized juices, including cider, are unsafe during pregnancy because they can contain bacteria like E. coli. Almost all juice sold is pasteurized — and unpasteurized juice sold in containers is required to carry a warning label. “Freshly squeezed juice,” is usually not pasteurized
Unpasteurized soft cheeses: Fruit and cheese platters are a party staple, and a relatively healthy way to fill up, but stay away from soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized soft cheeses may contain listeria, which is killed during the pasteurization process. If you’re at a party — avoid blue cheese and soft cheeses (including Brie, Camembert, goat cheese, feta, and Roquefort) and Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco, queso blanco, and Panela. If you’re not sure which cheeses are safe, stick with hard cheeses like cheddar and Swiss, and semi-soft cheeses like Monterey jack and mozzarella. Cream cheese and pasteurized processed cheeses like American are also safe.
Carving stations: If your party features a carving station with roast beef or turkey, make sure the meat is cooked well-done and is still steaming hot. Unless you’re sure they’re well cooked, avoid sauces like bearnaise, hollandaise, and aioli, which can contain uncooked eggs.
Eggnog: Homemade eggnog is off-limits, because it’s usually made with raw, unpasteurized eggs and alcohol. But you can make a virgin, pregnancy-safe version at home with a pasteurized egg product or an egg alternative like Egg Beaters. Or try store-bought eggnog — just check the label to make sure the eggs are pasteurized. You’ll also want to avoid desserts that may contain raw or under cooked eggs, like some custards and mousse, and homemade ice cream.
Fruitcake and other alcoholic food items: Fruitcake and other desserts that use alcohol as an ingredient are generally okay, because most of the alcohol burns off during cooking. If the fruitcake has been soaked in rum or other liquor after being baked, however, little of the alcohol will have evaporated, and you should probably avoid.
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