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NHS website - Can I eat smoked fish and cold meats during pregnancy?

Can I eat smoked fish and cold meats during pregnancy?

You can eat smoked fish, such as smoked salmon, and cooked cold meats when you’re pregnant. 

Risk of listeriosis during pregnancy

Some countries advise pregnant women not to eat cold meats or smoked fish because of the risk that the food may contain bacteria called listeria monocytogenes. In the UK, pregnant women are not advised to avoid these foods, because the risk of infection is low.

You can get listeriosis (which usually results in flu-like symptoms, vomiting and diarrhoea) from food containing listeria. Although listeriosis is a rare infection, it’s important to take special precautions during pregnancy. Even a mild form of the illness in a pregnant woman can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, or severe illness in a newborn baby.

Although it’s safe to eat smoked fish and cooked cold meats, pregnant women are advised to avoid other foods that may contain listeria. These include:

  • mould-ripened soft cheeses such as brie, camembert, chèvre (a type of goats' cheese) and others with a similar rind
  • soft blue-veined cheeses such Danish blue, gorgonzola and roquefort
  • all types of pâté including vegetable pâté

To protect against the risk of listeriosis from all ready-to-eat foods, including cold meats and smoked fish, it’s important that you:

  • eat the food before its use-by date
  • store food correctly in the fridge at a temperature below 5C

Fish to avoid during pregnancy

Although it’s safe to eat smoked fish while pregnant, there are some types of non-smoked fish you should limit, such as tuna and oily fish, and some you should avoid completely, such as shark. Also, don’t eat raw shellfish, as it can cause food poisoning.

Risk of parasites in cold cured meats

For ready-to-eat meats such as salami, pepperoni and parma ham, which are not cooked, you can reduce any risk from parasites by freezing the cured or fermented meats for four days at home before you eat them. Freezing kills most parasites and makes the meat safer to eat. However, if you’re concerned, you may choose to avoid them.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:


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