Is ice cream safe to eat in pregnancy?

Expert guidance on the safety of luxury ice cream, soft ice cream and shop-bought ice cream, plus mums' stories

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In a nutshell

Yes and no. It all depends on the type of ice cream.

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The expert view

There are three main types of ice cream, which have different recommendations.

The NHS advises that soft ice creams (the most common ones that you buy in the supermarket) should be fine to eat when you’re pregnant, as they are processed products. This means they are made with pasteurised milk and eggs, so there’s no risk of salmonella food poisoning.

However, ‘Mr Whippy’ type ice creams from vans and kiosks, are recommended to be avoided as the ‘whippy’ machines themselves may contain listeria, says Dr Rana Conway, pregnancy nutritionist, as well as the Association of UK Dieticians.

The third type is homemade ice cream. Most homemade ice cream recipes use raw egg, which is not suitable or safe when you’re pregnant, due to risk of salmonella. But you can find recipes that use a pasteurised egg substitute or are completely egg-free, which is great news if you love homemade ice cream.

If you’re in a restaurant and ice cream is tempting you from the menu, check with the kitchen that it’s processed ice cream. If it’s homemade, you may want to give it a miss – and have some less luxurious shop-bought ice cream when you get home. 

There’s one other reason why you might want to cut down on your ice cream consumption during pregnancy. “Premium ice creams are high in saturated fat and sugar so it’s best not to eat them too often,” points out Dr Conway. “Instead choose frozen yogurt, which contains much less fat or better still make your own by blending fruit and yogurt and popping it in the freezer. Bananas work particularly well as they taste sweet and provide a nice creamy texture.”

Mums in our forum say

“I craved ice cream with my 1st pregnancy (I ate a litre a day) and it had to be from a specific shop that made homemade (not whipped) ice cream. I gained 3 1/2 stone in my 1st pregnancy so I’m really hoping I don’t crave ice cream this time round! I’m hoping to crave cabbage and apples! lol” blackrain

“My sister got a proper ice-cream maker at Christmas and I’ve eaten loads she has been making. Delish! Last night was white chocolate! But she uses eggless recipes, as she has kids who she also wouldn’t feed raw eggs too, as well as me! They are very tasty – really luxurious!” CupcakeLadyJ

Read more about which desserts are safe in pregnancy:

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