Cheese is great source of calcium, and many varieties are safe to eat in pregnancy. However, some cheeses aren’t safe to eat, because they are more likely to grow bacteria such as listeria, which may harm your unborn baby.
Soft, mould-ripened cheeses, such as brie, camembert and chevre (a type of goat’s cheese) are not safe to eat in pregnancy. Soft, blue-veined cheeses, such as danish blue and roquefort, are also not considered safe to eat in pregnancy.
Hard, blue-veined cheeses, such as stilton, are less likely to contain listeria than soft, mould-ripened cheeses. In fact, the NHS says that stilton is safe to eat when you’re pregnant.
However, though the risk of listeria contamination in hard, blue-veined cheeses is very low, it can’t be ruled out. You may find it easier, and more reassuring, not to eat any blue cheeses, unless they’re cooked.
Even if soft, mould-ripened and blue-veined cheeses are made from pasteurised milk, they still aren’t considered safe to eat. That’s because they are more moist and less acidic than other cheeses, which provides the perfect environment for listeria bacteria to grow.
If you become infected with listeria, you can get an illness called listeriosis. This causes flu-like symptoms several weeks after you’ve been exposed to the bacteria, though you may not have any symptoms at all.
Safe cheeses in pregnancy
Hard cheeses: smoked versions, caerphilly, cheddar, cheshire, derby, double gloucester, edam, emmental, English goat’s cheddar, feta, gouda, gruyere, halloumi, havarti, jarlsberg, lancashire, manchego, orkney, paneer, parmesan, pecorino (hard), provolone and red leicester.
Soft, processed cheeses, if made with pasteurised milk: garlic and herb roulade, cottage cheese, cream cheese, feta, goat’s cheese without rind, mascarpone, mozzarella, processed cheese such as cheese spread and cheese segments, quark and ricotta.
Yoghurts: probiotic yoghurt and milk drinks, fromage frais, soured cream and creme fraiche, including natural, flavoured and live versions.