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Avoiding mouldy food in pregnancy

Even those with a 'sturdy constitution' who are used to eating days'-old food should live by the sell-by rule when pregnant.


Posted: 8 November 2009
by Laura Lee Davies


Some people in life tend to get ill from eating the wrong foods at the drop of the hat. Others might watch their partner spend a day in the loo after a dodgy meal while they are perfectly fine. However, when a woman is pregnant, she is much more susceptible to food poisoning of many kinds.

Even when a food has a clear sell-by date on it, poor storage in transit, at the shop or even in your fridge (if thermostats are performing badly) can mean that food goes off more quickly.
You should avoid creamy ready-meal dishes like shop-bought coleslaw altogether during pregnancy, as they can harbour listeria. But you should also examine any fresh food before preparing it for eating.

Soft cheeses and dairy foods
Because listeria can make a pregnant woman very ill and affect fetal development, soft cheeses and other dairy products made with unpasteurised animal products like unpasteurised milk, are a strict no-no.
Some soft cheeses are prepared with pasteurised milk and are safe to eat, but always check the label rather than assuming you know which cheeses are safe.
Even pasteurised foods (cottage cheese, cream etc) should be thrown away if they have started to go mouldy. Do NOT be tempted to simply cut away the mouldy bit and eat as normal.

Bread
Again, mouldy bread should be thrown away, even if you can cut away the dodgy bits.
It is simply not worth risking your health for the sake of buying another loaf! If you find you tend to get through a lot of bread during the week, or that the warm weather is affecting it more quickly, keep a loaf in the freezer. Most bread freezes and thaws surprisingly well.

Nuts and other 'long life' dry goods
Nuts, pulses etc do tend to have long shelf lives, but it's easy to tuck them away at the back of the cupboard and forget about them until it's too late.
You can do yourself a lot of harm if you eat these when they have gone mouldy or gone off because they weren't stored properly, or because conditions have been exceptionally warm.
If some of the nuts look dodgy or mouldy, chuck the packet or the whole contents of the jar away.

Sauces, jams and preserves
If you find mould sitting on the top of the jam or other sauces, chuck it out.
Store these things in the fridge rather than cupboard unless you have a very cool larder, and watch for pockets of mould under the rim or on top of the sauce or preserve. Watch for jars which have a limited life-span once opened, and write the opening date onto the label in case you forget.
Don't be tempted to spoon off the mould and eat the rest if you are pregnant or giving the food to a child.

Soft fruits and salad
A punnet of strawberries which has started to go mouldy is unlikely to yeild any edible berries. It is safest to chuck berries or grapes once they go off. However, if only a couple are affected you might be able to salvage what is below after washing and careful examination.
Wash all lettuces carefully when pregnant and bear in mind that bagged salads have been sitting in a sealed plastic bag, which is not an ideal setting! try to stick to fresh unbagged options and wash carefully. If they have started to go soggy they will be unappetising anyway. Pre-packed fresh, cooked beetroot is very prone to spores once it has been opened.
Don't be tempted to cut away the bad bits of tomatoes or peaches and the like - just let them go!

Vegetables and harder fruits
If a section of a potato or a spear of broccoli looks a little furry, you can cut away the old bits and use the rest of the vegetable (or pear or apple, say).
However, with broccoli, do bear in mind that the heads might conceal the beginnings of mould, so examine these carefully.

Meat and fish
However much that piece of steak cost you, if it's go something growing on it, throw it away! The same goes for any animal flesh or by-products. Don't just scrape away what looks bad, discard it ALL.
Always store raw meat and fish away from other foods.


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