Food and drinks to avoid in pregnancy

There are some foods to avoid or take care with when you're pregnant as they might make you ill or harm your baby.

These include:

  • unpasteurised dairy (milk and cheese) - pasteurisation kills bacteria in milk through heating
  • cheeses such as brie and camembert
  • blue cheeses such as Danish blue, Gorgonzola and Roquefort
  • pâté
  • foods made with raw or under-cooked eggs, such as homemade mayonnaise
  • raw or under-cooked meat
  • cold cured meats such as salami, parma ham, chorizo and pepperoni
  • liver - including liver sausage, haggis and pâté containing liver
  • shark, swordfish, and marlin
  • limit tuna to one 150g cooked weight fresh tuna steak or two 240g cans - 140g drained weight - per week
  • raw fish
  • soft-serve ice cream

Food products that are not pasteurised, or are mould-ripened, may contain bacteria that is dangerous for your baby, such as listeria.

Food poisoning in pregnancy

Food poisoning can be dangerous when you are pregnant.

To avoid food poisoning:

  • wash your hands before, during and after food preparation
  • use different knives, chopping boards and utensils for raw and cooked food
  • put food in the fridge as quickly as possible
  • keep raw and cooked meats separate
  • wash all fruits, vegetables and pre-packed salads before eating
  • eat leftovers within 2 to 3 days
  • do not eat foods past their use-by date
  • make sure all meat, poultry, seafood and eggs are cooked thoroughly


There is no safe time to drink alcohol when you are pregnant.

Alcohol during pregnancy


Limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200 milligrams (mg) a day. This is about the same as 2 mugs of instant coffee. Too much caffeine can increase your risk of miscarriage. It can also increase your baby’s risk of being small or growing slowly.

Caffeine during pregnancy

Herbal teas and supplements

Ginger tea is safe to drink during pregnancy, and can help reduce morning sickness. You should avoid all other herbal supplements and teas.

Avoid herbal supplements and teas during pregnancy because:

  • there no way of knowing how strong they are
  • they can react with other medications - which causes health problems
  • the effects of herbal remedies on pregnant women and unborn babies is unknown
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This project has received funding from the Government of Ireland’s Sláintecare Integration Fund 2019 under Grant Agreement Number 8.

Page last reviewed: 10 May 2019
Next review due: 10 May 2022