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NHS website - Why can't I eat soft cheeses during pregnancy?

Why can't I eat soft cheeses during pregnancy?

Soft cheeses can contain listeria bacteria that cause an infection called listeriosis. To avoid this risk, pregnant women are advised not to eat any uncooked mould-ripened soft cheese such as brie, camembert, mould-ripened soft cheese made with goats' milk, and others with a similar rind.

You should also avoid eating uncooked soft blue-veined cheeses, including:

  • Danish blue
  • gorgonzola
  • roquefort

But it is safe to eat these cheese when they are cooked thoroughly, until steaming hot all the way through.

Read more Can I eat cooked brie and blue cheese during pregnancy?

Soft cheeses like this are less acidic than hard cheeses and they contain more water. This means they can be an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, such as listeria, to grow in.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis infection is usually caused by eating food contaminated with listeria bacteria. Pregnant women are more at risk of getting listeriosis because of hormonal changes during pregnancy that weaken the immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection).

Although infection with listeria is rare, it's important to take special care during pregnancy. Even a mild form of the illness in a pregnant woman can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.

Cheeses you can eat

While you're pregnant, it's safe to eat hard cheeses, as well as other types of cheese. Hard cheeses don't contain as much water as soft cheeses, so bacteria are less likely to grow in them.

For more information, including when to make sure a cheese is made from pasteurised milk, see Are hard cheeses safe to eat during pregnancy?

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information