Ricotta cheese is safe to eat while pregnant as long as it’s made using pasteurized milk, which should be indicated on the package label.

When you’re pregnant, you may hear a lot of different opinions about things you should and shouldn’t do — like what exercises are safe and what foods you can and can’t eat. At times, it might be hard to separate fact from fiction.

If you savor the mild taste of ricotta cheese, you may wonder whether it’s among the foods that are safe to eat while you’re pregnant. Keep reading to get the answers.

Why the food rules during pregnancy?

Not all of the risks and warnings about what you can or can’t eat during pregnancy are unfounded. Your potential to contract foodborne illnesses increases during pregnancy.

The Cleveland Clinic shares that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract listeria than nonpregnant women.

You should speak with your doctor to get the most current information about food do’s and don’ts. Some doctors are more relaxed than others about certain ingredients. But in the end, you might need to make some of these food decisions on your own.

To start, you’ll want to avoid anything that might increase your chances of coming in contact with listeria.

What is listeria?

Listeria is a type of infection caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The general population doesn’t have a high risk of developing this life-threatening infection. It typically affects people with compromised immune systems:

  • older adults
  • newborn babies
  • pregnant women

Symptoms of listeria include:

Of these symptoms, pregnant women usually experience fever and general aches.

If you’re feeling any of these symptoms, think about the meals you’ve eaten recently. If you think you’ve come in contact with listeria, contact your doctor right away.

Complications can include:

Foods to avoid during pregnancy

According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnant women should avoid the following foods:

These foods carry the risk of listeria. The types of seafood listed above are also high in mercury.

It’s also recommended that pregnant women don’t ingest more than 200 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day because it can cross the placenta and may affect your baby’s heart rate.

You should avoid alcohol as well. Women who drink during pregnancy have higher rates of miscarriage and stillbirth. You also put your baby at risk of birth defects.

And research about herbal teas during pregnancy is mixed, so it’s best to chat with your doctor before drinking them.

Make sure to always wash your fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating. Also follow guidelines for safe food preparation.

Avoid eating raw fish, undercooked meat and poultry, and raw or runny eggs.

With a little attention to detail, you may be able to enjoy your favorite treats. For example, in some cases you may be able to eat hot dogs and other lunch meats. But make sure they’re cooked until steaming to kill any possible listeria.

Is ricotta safe?

The answer to this question may be as simple as reading your favorite brand’s label. Most ricotta cheese you’ll find at the grocery store is made using pasteurized milk.

Pasteurization is a process of heating liquids and foods to kill off harmful bacteria like listeria that can cause infections. This means most ricotta is safe to eat during pregnancy.

Are other cheeses safe?

There are cheeses you’ll want to avoid. These include soft cheese with white rinds like Brie, Camembert, and some types of goat cheese. Stay away from soft blue cheeses too.

You may be able to eat these cheeses if they’re cooked, but talk to your doctor for more detailed information.

In additional to ricotta, other cheeses considered safe to eat during pregnancy include:

Always look for the word “pasteurized” on cheese packaging. When you see this word on the label, it’s safe to eat.

When to call your doctor

If you’re still unsure if something is safe to eat during pregnancy, ask your doctor.

There are lots of rules and suggestions you’ll hear during your 40 weeks of pregnancy. The advice you followed during one pregnancy could have changed by the next.

And if you’re concerned that you might have come into contact with listeria or have symptoms of foodborne illness, contact your doctor. It never hurts to have a quick checkup to make sure you and your baby are healthy.

The takeaway

There are many delicious recipes that call for ricotta cheese. You can stuff it into ravioli or manicotti, drop it atop pizza, or even mix it with something sweet for a low-fat dessert.

If your ricotta cheese is made from pasteurized milk, there’s no harm in including it in your diet during pregnancy.