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Goat cheese is one of those gray areas in pregnancy. Some types of goat cheese are safe to eat while pregnant while others are not.
Pregnant women should avoid all soft, mold-ripened goat cheeses, even if the cheese is pasteurized. Soft goat cheese without mold-ripened rind is safe to pasteurize. All types of hard, aged goat cheese are safe to use in pregnancy.
Types of goat cheese and pregnancy safety
There are many types of goat cheese: some are safe to eat during pregnancy, and others should be avoided.
All of the following guidelines are the same in almost all countries including the US, UK and Europe, Australia and New Zealand.
Goat cheese, which is unsafe for pregnant women
The following types of goat cheese are not safe to use during pregnancy:
Mold-ripened goat cheese (with white rind)
This goat cheese is commonly known as a chèvre or goat brie (it looks like a traditional brie or camembert) and is best avoided when pregnant unless it's cooked. Unfortunately, this type is most commonly found in goat cheese dishes and is only safe if heated thoroughly, which we will discuss later. Any type of goat cheese with a mold-ripened soft rind is not safe to eat during pregnancy because soft cheeses like this one have a higher incidence of listeria contamination. Listeriosis can cause serious problems such as miscarriage or stillbirth during pregnancy.
Soft or spreadable goat cheese
Spreadable goat cheese is usually made with Chèvre or another soft, fresh goat cheese and is therefore not suitable for consumption in this case. Safety can depend on whether the spread was made with a mold-ripened cream cheese. If the spreadable or soft goat cheese is commercially produced, pasteurized and not mold-ripened, it is safe to eat.
Incinerated goat cheese
This is goat cheese with a black or gray ash rind that is soft. The ash can hide the fact that the cheese is mold ripened because the ash covers the rind.
An example of this cheese is Humboldt Fog, named after the Humboldt region in California where it is made. Others are Rosary Ash or Kidderton.
As with white rind cheese, this type of goat cheese is not safe to use during pregnancy unless it is boiled or otherwise heated thoroughly. We'll cover this in the next section.
Goat cheese. Various mold-ripened goat cheeses: not pregnancy safe unless cooked or heated.
Goat cheese that is safe for pregnant women
Boiled goat cheese
Cooked goat cheese, even cooked chèvre, is safe to eat provided the cheese has been cooked until the food is steaming. Making sure the cheese has reached a temperature of at least 71 ° C will kill all harmful bacteria and make the cheese safe to eat. You can also make mold-ripened goat soft cheese safe by boiling it.
Aged or aged goat cheese
This type of goat cheese is in a hard block like cheddar and doesn't have a soft crust. One example is goat gouda, which is produced in the Netherlands. Aged goat cheese is harmless provided it is made from pasteurized goat milk. If the cheese is very hard and dense (hard enough to crush or grate), it can also be eaten with unpasteurized milk. This is because the very low water content of such cheeses makes it difficult for Listeria to survive.
Spanish goat cheese
There are several Spanish goat cheeses that are hard cheeses and are safe to eat provided they are hard (rather than semi-hard) or made from pasteurized milk.
Is goat cheese always pasteurized?
In the United States, most cheese, including goat cheese, is pasteurized because the FDA banned the sale of raw milk.
Milk that has not been heat treated by pasteurization can contain Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli or Listeria.
Some farmers markets may sell unpasteurized goat cheese. If you're buying cheese outside of a grocery store, it's worth checking the label.
Most cheeses are pasteurized in the UK and Australia for the same reasons.
Unpasteurized cheese is most likely to be found in European countries, especially France. All soft cheeses in France tend to be unpasteurized, so check with the seller before buying.
In general, European dairy products do not meet FDA milk safety requirements.
Keep in mind that not all pasteurized goat cheeses are safe - it depends on how they ripened too.
Is Pasteurized Goat Cheese OK During Pregnancy?
Pasteurized goat cheese is safe during pregnancy, with the exception of surface-ripened / mold-ripened cheeses such as goat brie and goat camembert, as there is a risk of listeriosis.
Overall, most goat cheeses are harmless, provided they are pasteurized.
This does not apply to all surface-ripened goat cheeses with a soft or ashy rind, such as Brie or Camembert-style goat cheese.
If you want to be absolutely sure that a goat cheese is safe, you can heat it up while hot, as all types of goat cheeses are safe in pregnancy when cooked.