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If you like goat cheese spread on a bagel or mixed in a salad, you might be wondering if you can eat goat cheese when you are pregnant?
It is a perfectly legitimate question. There are many foods to think twice about (or right to avoid) now that you are dining in pairs.
So is goat cheese a part of it? Is Goat Cheese Safe To Eat While Pregnant?
The answer to that is: it depends.
While certain types of goat cheese are considered unsafe to use during pregnancy, some are still FDA approved.
What types of cheese should you avoid during pregnancy?
Any unpasteurized soft cheese is considered unsafe for pregnant women.
What Happens If You Eat Goat Cheese While Pregnant?
If it's not pasteurized, it can harbor harmful bacteria, such as Listeria monocytogene, which can lead to listeriosis.
Although it is relatively rare to develop the disease, 2,500 Americans develop listeriosis annually - and one in five cases results in death.
According to the FDA, the risk of developing this condition during pregnancy is ten times higher. The effects can range from food poisoning to miscarriage.
If you're not sure if cheese is pasteurized, check the label or ask the seller to find out for you.
In addition to unpasteurized soft goat cheese, the CDC advises avoiding other soft cheeses such as Queso Fresco, Queso Blanco, Panela (Queso Panela), Brie, Camembert, Blauader or Feta.
Another type of goat cheese to avoid during pregnancy is surface-aged (also known as mold-aged cheese). It is also known as chèvre or goat brie.
Unfortunately, Chèvre is probably exactly what you think of when you fancy goat cheese.
Pregnant women should avoid all soft, mold-ripened goat cheeses, even if the cheese is pasteurized.
Visually, surface-ripened cheese has a velvety or “felt-like” white rind.
These cheeses are considered unsafe to eat because the presence of listeria in these products is significantly higher (up to 160 times higher according to the CDC).
"Can I eat any kind of goat cheese while pregnant?"
By now, you might be wondering whether goat cheese is considered safe to use during pregnancy. Well, good news: goat cheese isn't entirely off the table.
While the chances of developing foodborne illness during pregnancy are never zero, certain types of goat cheese are considered safe to consume during pregnancy.
Goat cheese made from pasteurized milk
When milk goes through this process, it kills a lot of the bacteria, mold, and other things that occur naturally in milk.
Because of this, the chances of getting sick from this goat cheese during pregnancy are very small. It's important to note that you should avoid soft-ripened goat cheese even if it's made from pasteurized goat milk.
Hard goat cheese is considered safe to consume during pregnancy
Hard cheese is exactly what it sounds like. You can usually tell whether goat cheese is classified as hard or soft by pressing on it with your finger.
You can press into soft cheese. Your finger even leaves an impression. That doesn't happen when you press hard goat cheese. Because hard goat cheese has a lower moisture content than soft goat cheese, it is difficult for bacteria to thrive.
It's just not a good environment for bacteria that need moisture. Goat hard cheese is considered safe regardless of whether pasteurized or unpasteurized milk is used.
What other cheeses should I avoid during pregnancy?
Soft goat cheese isn't the only thing to be careful about during pregnancy. All mold-ripened soft cheeses pose a significant risk to you and your baby.
These often contain bacteria in the beginning. Since the cheese has a high moisture content, the bacteria can then continue to multiply.
It is also not safe to eat blue cheese like Danish blue cheese. These are also made with molds that contain listeria. This is the main concern when consuming soft cheese while pregnant.
Soft goat cheese and goat cheese made from raw milk should always be avoided unless it is cooked through.
Cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees kills harmful bacteria. Hard goat cheese is harmless. If you have eaten goat cheese during pregnancy, see your doctor.