Pate may well be one of those things you crave during the festive season, however, for the most part, pate is not safe to eat by pregnant women.
Why is pate harmful?
Pate can contain the bacteria ‘listeria’ which grows in cold temperatures. While not overly harmful to non-pregnant women (other than causing flu like symptoms or urinary tract infections), pregnant women can be more susceptible. While extremely rare, listeria can pass to the placenta and cause harm to your unborn baby, or a miscarriage or stillbirth in the most serious of cases. If developed during the last trimester of pregnancy, the baby can become very ill.
Liver pates in particular can lead to birth defects due to the high levels of retinol or Vitamin A in the pate. Eating large amount of liver products is inadvisable during pregnancy, therefore it might be best to steer clear of liver pate, liver sausage and haggis for a while.
Does that relate to all pates?
Pate which has been heat treated or pasteurized is generally safe to eat while pregnant. Anything sold at room temperature or pates which don’t need to be stored in the fridge after opening, are also safe to consume.
Other food thought to be best avoided during pregnancy include mold-ripened or blue veined soft cheeses (brie, chevre, camembert, gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton and Danish blue, etc.); raw or under-cooked meat; liver products; raw or partly cooked eggs as well as homemade mayonnaise; caffeine; some fish (shark, marlin, swordfish); unpasteurized milk; yogurt; raw shellfish; sushi; smoked fish; green sprouting potatoes; and unwashed fruits, vegetables and salads. But like much of the information presented to you when pregnant, this is only a guide.
If you feel a little disheartened, it is understandable. This may cross a few things off your Christmas dining list including not only liver pate, but also smoked salmon, prawns and the majority of the cheese board. Note that cooking foods, such as the soft cheeses mentioned above, can kill off the risk of listeria. Of course some pregnant women eat and enjoy pate and other foods on the no-go list in moderation at Christmas time, or any time of the year. It is ultimately a personal choice for the mother to be to decide once they are armed with all the facts.
While the risk of birth defects or miscarriage may be minimal, anything which can put the baby at risk may be worth avoiding. But again it is a personal choice. If you suffer from complicated pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths or premature births, then it may well be worth avoiding pate and other risky food items in any form, altogether.