In a nutshell
It’s complicated. The key fact is not whether the cheese is pasteurised or not, it's whether it has been mould-ripened and has a rind - these are the cheeses to avoid. But if you cook them thoroughly, even these are safe. Read on to find out more...
The expert view
The guidance can be confusing. Many people think that if a cheese is pasteurised, this automatically makes it safe for pregnant women but, this is not correct. Mould-ripened cheeses with a rind such as Brie, Blue Brie, Camembert and Chèvre are not safe, whether they are pasteurised or non-pasteurised.
These soft cheeses to avoid include:
- Blue Brie
The NHS advises avoiding soft cheeses like this. The reasons are:
- they are less acidic than hard cheeses
- they contain more moisture
This means they can be an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, such as listeria, to grow in, which can cause listeriosis – possibly leading to miscarriage and stillbirth.
But there is a way you can eat them safely...
The NHS confirms that if you cook these types of soft cheeses with a rind until they're steaming hot all the way through - then they are safe to eat in pregnancy.
What about soft cheeses without a rind?
These are safe - as long as they are made from pasteurised milk.
These safe soft pasteurised cheeses without a rind include:
Nutritionist Dr Rana Conway, author of What to Eat When You’re Pregnant, says: "If you’re sad that uncooked Chèvre is now off the menu, why not try a pasteurised soft goats’ cheese instead. Look for one that doesn’t have a rind and is made from pasteurised milk. You can enjoy it safely, and it’ll taste just as good with crusty bread or pasta."
So, if you're in a restaurant and soft cheese is on the menu, what do you need to ask?
- Cooked goats cheese or deep fried Camembert - has it been cooked so it's steaming hot all the way through? If not, avoid it
- Feta cheese salad - has the Feta cheese been made from pasteurised milk? If not, avoid it
- Cheesecake - has the cheese in the cheesecake been made from pasteurised milk and with cooked or pasteurised egg? If not, avoid it. Find out more about eating cheesecake in pregnancy
Mums writing on our forum say
"Funnily enough I had a conversation with a doctor about this! As long as the cheese is cooked it's okay, but if it's a mould ripened cheese, it makes no difference if it is pasteurised, it's the moist conditions in the cheese that listeria grow in." MrsKP_
"I've eaten goats' cheese a couple of times since getting pregnant, when I haven't really had a choice, as I've been at a wedding or a work function." Happy-Mrs-S