Can I eat cheese whilst I am pregnant?

There seems to be so many answers to such a simple question... and it all depends on where you look for your advice.   

To make an informed decision you need to understand the risks involved...

The reason to be careful eating cheese while pregnant is due to the risk of Listeria. Listeria is a bacteria in soil and as the cows, sheep or goats consume grass and turn it into milk there's a chance that they can consume this bacteria too.

In most cases the bacteria are destroyed by heating, cooking or pasteurisation but there is a chance they can survive in some soft cheeses. This is where the main risk lies, although it's important to note that Listeria infection in pregnant women is extremely rare.

For this reason pregnant women are generally advised to avoid blue cheese

and soft cheese whether pasteurised or not. 

You can still enjoy as much hard cheese as you like though, as they are all heated in some way during the cheese making process.

This is what the NHS website has to offer:-

What you can eat

  • Hard cheeses such as Cheddar, Stilton and Parmesan
  • Soft pasteurised cheeses such as cottage cheese, mozzarella, feta, cream cheese, paneer, ricotta, halloumi, goats' cheese without a white coating on the outside (rind) and processed cheese spreads
  • Thoroughly cooked soft unpasteurised cheeses, until steaming hot
  • Thoroughly cooked soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside, until steaming hot
  • Thoroughly cooked soft blue cheeses, until steaming hot
  • Pasteurised milk, yoghurt, cream and ice cream

What to avoid

  • mould-ripened soft cheeses with a white coating on the outside, such as brie & Camembert  (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • soft blue cheeses such as Danish blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort (unless cooked until steaming hot)
  • any unpasteurised cow's milk, goats' milk or sheep's milk
  • any foods made from unpasteurised milk, such as soft goats' cheese