Is any unpasteurised cheese safe in pregnancy?

The difference between unpasteurised hard and soft cheese - and whether you can eat either during pregnancy

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In a nutshell

Yes, some unpasteurised cheese is safe to eat when you’re pregnant.

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The expert view

Contrary to popular belief, it is OK to eat certain types of unpasteurised cheese. It all depends on the moisture content in the cheese, which you can tell by the hardness of the cheese. 

The NHS states that it is fine to eat hard, unpasteurised cheese such as parmesan or those tasty locally-produced cheddar and Wensleydale cheeses you might buy from a farmer’s market, even if they are unpasteurised.

Cheese it is safe to eat, even if unpasteurised:

But isn’t there a risk of listeriosis with unpasteurised cheese?

Yes, but not in hard cheese. This is because the listeria bacteria does not thrive in the more acidic environment of hard cheese. 

Nutritionist Dr Rana Conway explains: “Hard cheeses are safer because they are more acidic and contain less moisture, so they are less likely to allow bacteria to grow.  They are considered safe whether they are made of pasteurised or unpasteurised milk.” 

Can I ever eat unpasteurised soft cheese?

Only if it has been fully cooked all the way through, which will kill the listeria bacteria. So unpasteurised (or pasteurised) mould-ripened soft cheese (these have a white rind round them) such as Brie and Camembert is safe to eat as long as it’s been completely cooked. 

Mums writing on our forum say

“You need to avoid all blue type cheeses as the blue bit is really like a mold so no amount of pasteurising will get rid.” TulipRose

“I guess there is no point worrying about what I have now eaten. I am sure that it is one of those low risk things but the advice is there for a better to be safe than sorry reason so will just not touch it again.” lollipophoney

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Find out about the rules on pasteurised cheese during pregnancy here.

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