For many families, Christmas is easily the biggest celebration of the year. It’s a time of gift-giving, lights, singing, and decorating the tree. For some, it is the only time during the year that extended families and friends have to spend with one another, so the holidays often feature reunions with family and friends and of course the Christmas Day feast!
Not all of the foods that are on the menu at Christmas time are completely safe for pregnant moms to eat.
The following is a list of the top foods that moms to be should avoid consuming during the holidays.
Many folks are already aware that an undercooked turkey poses a significant threat to everyone, but especially to pregnant women, but other meats that are not cooked properly can be dangerous as well.
Turkey should be cooked until it reaches at least 165 degrees internally as checked and measured by a meat thermometer that has been placed in the thickest part of the thigh, breast and wing of the turkey. For pregnant women, the internal temperature should read 180 degrees to be completely safe.
Stuffing and dressings should be baked separately and reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees as well to ensure safety.
Baked hams and thick roasts can also pose a threat. Ham should be cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees, and dense roasts of beef, such as brisket, should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Avoid meats that have been cooked to rare or medium rare, and that have blood or pink coloration. Pates and deli meats can also pose a problem, so only used canned pates that have been thoroughly pasteurized and avoid deli meats that are pre-sliced as there is a small chance of listeria and salmonella with them.
Oysters and other shellfish feature heavily in some holiday recipes, but any raw or undercooked seafood must be avoided during pregnancy. Some fish can contain heavy concentrations of mercury, such as swordfish, shark, and tilefish, so these should be avoided as well. Expectant mothers should also limit their consumption of tuna, pollack, shrimp, catfish and salmon to no more than 12 ounces a week because these varieties of fish also contain some mercury.
Many homemade eggnogs contain raw eggs, as well as alcohol, both of which must be avoided during pregnancy. Choose non-alcoholic, store bought eggnogs that have been pasteurized in order to be safe, or, substitute a soy version of this popular holiday beverage.
Rum Soaked Cakes and Treats
While most of the alcohol does burn off during cooking, some holiday baked goods, such as fruitcakes and certain sponge cakes are soaked in rum, brandy or another alcohol, so these should be avoided during pregnancy since alcohol has been shown to both cause delivery complications as well as increase the chance of birth defects and developmental delays.
Other items that might secretly contain alcohol include spiced ciders and chocolate cordials that might also contain rum, brandy and other alcohols as well.
Who doesn’t love a great soft cheese based dip? Soft cheeses such as feta, blue cheese, brie and camembert are often unpasteurized and carry a risk of listeria, so stick to cheese dishes that only use hard, pasteurized cheeses such as cheddar to be completely safe.
Unpasteurized Juices and Milk
While most of the milk and juices that are sold in the grocery stores are pasteurized, a few of them aren’t, and, farmer’s markets and local product stands may also sell homemade beverages that haven’t been pasteurized to kill all of the potential bacteria and toxins, so avoid these choices during pregnancy.
Sugar Cookie Dough
What would Christmas be without sugar cookies? Sugar cookies are fine for pregnant moms to eat, whether or not they have been decorated, but be certain that they have been fully cooked. Raw cookie dough can contain raw eggs, which do carry the risk of salmonella and other toxins, so resist the urge to try a bite of this and other raw batters and dough while cooking.