Pregnant women can benefit from eating certain foods, but they should avoid others. However, the line between beneficial and harmful foods isn’t always clear.
For instance, some foods may be safe to eat under certain conditions but unsafe under others.
Goat cheese is an example of one such food.
This article explains which types of goat cheese are safe during pregnancy and which ones you should avoid.
Certain varieties of goat cheese are considered unsafe to eat during pregnancy because of the risk of food poisoning.
Pregnant women are especially susceptible to food poisoning. For instance, they may be 10–20 times likelier to contract listeriosis, a foodborne illness caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium, than the general population (
Soft cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized goat milk have a higher risk of bacterial contamination. This is also the case with all surface-ripened goat cheeses (
Surface-ripened — also known as mold-ripened — goat cheese is easily recognizable by its soft white rind, which is similar to those on Brie and Camembert cheeses.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that raw and surface-ripened soft cheeses are 50–160 times likelier to be contaminated with Listeria than pasteurized cheeses, significantly increasing your risk of listeriosis during pregnancy (
Pregnant women should steer clear of soft goat cheeses that are surface-ripened or made from raw, unpasteurized goat milk due to the increased risk of listeriosis.
A few kinds of goat cheese are typically deemed safe to eat during pregnancy due to a much lower risk of food poisoning.
However, there’s still a small chance of bacterial contamination (
All the same, safe types include:
- Pasteurized goat cheeses. Pasteurization is a process used to kill the bacteria, yeast, and mold naturally found in milk. All pasteurized goat cheeses — except surface-ripened ones — are safe to eat during pregnancy (
- Hard goat cheeses. Hard cheese has a low moisture level, which makes it difficult for harmful bacteria to thrive. Most health professionals consider both pasteurized and unpasteurized hard cheeses safe to eat during pregnancy (
You can distinguish a hard goat cheese from a soft one by its appearance. Hard cheese won’t indent when you press it with your finger, while soft cheese will. You can tell whether a cheese is pasteurized by looking at its label.
Keep in mind that cooking kills harmful bacteria, including Listeria. Thus, a sauce or tart containing goat cheese, or a pizza topped with it, are typically safe to eat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), you just need to ensure that the cheese has been thoroughly cooked until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) (
Soft goat cheeses made from pasteurized milk, as well as all hard goat cheeses, are usually regarded as safe for pregnant women — as long as they aren’t surface-ripened.
After childbirth, women can typically start enjoying many of the foods they had to limit during pregnancy.
This also applies to all types of goat cheese.
That said, your diet influences the composition and flavor of your breastmilk. If you notice that your baby consistently becomes ill or fussy shortly after a feeding, consider talking with your healthcare provider.
Cow milk protein allergy, or CMPA, is the most common food allergy during the first year of life (
Goat cheese is considered safe to eat while breastfeeding. Generally, breastfeeding women only have to limit a handful of foods.
While some types of goat cheese are safe to eat during pregnancy, others increase your risk of food poisoning.
Hard cheeses and non-surface-ripened pasteurized cheeses are typically safe, but you should avoid soft cheeses made from unpasteurized goat’s milk.
As thorough cooking kills harmful bacteria, goat cheese in sauces and tarts or on pizza is likely safe.