Is pâté safe to eat in pregnancy?

Mackerel, smoked salmon, mushroom, tuna, trout, duck, chicken liver, fish or vegetable pâté – are any of them OK to eat when you’re pregnant

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In a nutshell

No, pâté is not safe, except for some that have been pasteurised or heat-treated. Any kind of liver pâté is definitely a no-no.

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Experts’ view

The NHS recommends you avoid all types of pâté – even vegetable pâtés – as they can contain the bacteria listeria. 

Listeria is killed by high temperatures and pasteurisation, and unlike many other germs can grow in cold temperatures – even in a fridge. For most healthy people, listeria simply causes flu-like symptoms. However, listeria can cross the placenta, and so can be harmful in pregnancy, and in rare cases may lead to miscarriage.

Liver pâtés can also contain high levels of Vitamin A. Vitamin A at high doses can lead to birth defects and damage to your baby’s liver. While Vitamin A is important in your diet, it builds up in your liver, and therefore it’s important not to eat too much.  

However, our nutritionist explains there are a few pâtés and pastes that are safe to eat in pregnancy. 

Nutritionist Dr Rana Conway advises that vegan pâtés in tubes such as Tartex and Granovita, which are on sale in health food shops, are completely safe to eat during pregnancy. Also most pâtés that have been heat treated or pasteurised are safe, such as salmon paste that comes in a jar.

“It’s fine to have pâté (except liver pâté) that is heat treated or pasteurised while you’re pregnant, as these don’t carry the same listeria risk as pates that are bought chilled and stored in the fridge in the supermarket,” she assures.

How can you know it’s safe?

“Pâtés (except liver) sold at room temperature, either in tins, jars or tubes are safe for pregnancy,” explains Dr Rana. So, look for pâtés and pastes that are stored and sold at room temperature – ie on the shelves. Avoid any that are displayed in shop refrigerators, or need to be kept in the fridge even before you’ve opened them. 

Mums writing on our MFM forum say

“I was nearly 7 months pregnant at Christmas and it certainly meant it was very different from how Christmas usually is. I had to be a little more careful with the food, no pâté starters, no liver in the stuffing.” Nicolette

“With all 3 of my pregnancies I’ve been pregnant over Xmas! And each time all I want more than anything is pâté on toast!!” Ladylewis85

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