Can I eat halloumi when pregnant? You’re in luck. Because halloumi, a semi-hard cheese made from goat’s and sheep’s milk, is perfectly safe to eat during pregnancy.
To make sure that you keep the risk of a food-borne infection low, though, there are some things to keep in mind.
So let’s take a look at everything you should know when the craving for halloumi cheese strikes during pregnancy.
Is it safe to eat halloumi cheese when pregnant?
Halloumi is safe to eat when pregnant. But before you start grilling, it’s best to make sure that the cheese meets two simple criteria:
- It’s made from pasteurized milk. That’s milk that’s been heated to kill off any bacteria. Supermarket cheese will tell you on the pack whether it contains pasteurized milk.
- It’s fresh. That means it hasn’t been sitting open in the fridge. Keep within the expiry date and you’re A-okay.
Halloumi is a particularly safe cheese to eat while pregnant because it’s brined. That means it comes in salty water which helps kill off any nasty bacteria.
Even better, people tend to cook halloumi (most popularly, it’s grilled or fried), meaning that anything that’s not killed by the pasteurization or brine is very unlikely to make it to the plate.
What cheeses to avoid while pregnant?
There aren’t many cheeses that make it onto the “avoid completely while pregnant” list.
Most cheeses, if pasteurized and/or cooked until piping hot, are totally okay.
The cheeses that you should be more cautious with include:
- Mold-ripened soft cheeses. These cheeses—like camembert, brie, or some types of goat’s cheese (chèvre)—tend to have a white coating or skin. But although you should avoid eating them raw, they’re safe if they’re baked until steaming.
- Soft blue cheeses. Think gorgonzola or Roquefort. Blue cheeses are generally okay when they’ve been cooked (pizza quattro formaggio, anyone?) but, from a cheese board, it’s best to give these a miss too.
- Any unpasteurized cheese. Sheep’s cheese, goat, or cow—if they’re unpasteurized, it’s best to save them for after pregnancy. Luckily, most supermarket cheeses are pasteurized, but in restaurants, it’s best to ask.
So hard cheeses, hot cheeses, and pasteurized cheeses are safe options. Just remember to make sure they’re fresh.
Why is unpasteurized food bad for pregnancy?
Pasteurization is a process where foods like milk, fruit juice, honey, and sometimes eggs are heated to make them safe to eat.
The process kills any bacteria in the food. So, eating unpasteurized food during pregnancy can be unsafe, because it has a much higher chance of containing harmful bacteria.
One of the most dangerous types of bacteria for pregnant women is listeria.
This causes an infection known as listeriosis. In some cases, a listeriosis infection can sadly lead to pregnancy loss or serious health problems for babies.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women are 10 times more likely to get listeriosis than other adults. So, at least for a while, pasteurization is your best friend.
Is halloumi cheese pasteurized?
In almost all cases, halloumi cheese that you find in the supermarket is pasteurized.
If you want to be super sure, though, check on the back of the package—it should tell you what type of milk that particular brand of cheese contains.
Sometimes, if you’re buying halloumi from a local producer, it can contain unpasteurized milk.
The same applies in restaurants, where you can’t see the raw ingredients that are going into your meal.
Just ask whoever you’re buying it from. If they can’t tell you or if you’re in any doubt, it’s best to avoid it this time.
Halloumi when pregnant: The bottom line
Is it safe to eat halloumi cheese when pregnant? As long as it’s pasteurized, halloumi might actually be one of the safest cheeses to eat when pregnant—thanks to its being brined and usually served cooked.
You’ve got this, mama!
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