Feta Cheese During Pregnancy

When pregnant, it is important that you be cautious of the type of foods you take, and understand the foods that you should avoid. A good example is feta cheese. Feta cheese is obtained from either goat or sheep milk and features a tangy and bold flavor. While this type of cheese is a good source of nutrients and minerals, such as calcium, taking feta cheese during pregnancy is not advisable. This is mainly because the cheese is more likely to grow harmful bacteria like Listeria. Such bacteria can harm the unborn baby; hence the feta cheese should be avoided during pregnancy. Mentioned here are some of the valuable facts you need to understand, regarding feta cheese and pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Eat Feta Cheese During Pregnancy?

As compared to the hard cheeses, the feta cheese, especially the one purchased unpacked is a serious health risk for the pregnant ladies. In addition to the feta cheese, Brie, goat cheese, blue cheese, Mexican queso fresco and Camembert should also be avoided by the pregnant ladies. In most cases, feta cheese is made from unpasteurized milk. As such, the chances of the cheese harboring harmful bacteria, such as Listeria, are comparatively high. Additionally, this type of cheese is also more likely to support the growth of Listeria during the initial ripening stages. The brine solutions, which are used to ripen the feta cheese, can also be a source of the Listeria bacteria.

Once taken into the body of the pregnant mothers, these bacteria can result in preterm delivery or even a miscarriage. Although the bacteria are likely to die as the pH of the cheese falls below 4.6, during the ripening process, the risk is still high.

How Can You Eat Feta Cheese During Pregnancy in a Safer Way?

Owing to the weakened immune system while pregnant, there are certain foods that you should avoid, including feta cheese. Such foods are easily contaminated by harmful bacteria. However, feta cheese contains a horde of nutrients. If you insist on having feta cheese during pregnancy, you should follow these steps.

Step 1

Since feta cheese is commonly made from goat milk, the question here is, is goat cheese pasteurized? Well, in most cases, the milk is not pasteurized. To minimize the chances of the feta cheese harboring bacteria, you must ensure that the milk used to make it was pasteurized. Pasteurization is an essential process in the making of the cheese; it kills bacteria in the milk, making the soft cheese less risky for the pregnant mothers. Based on the information on the Kids Health website, feta cheese that has been made from pasteurized milk is safe for consumption for the pregnant mothers.

Step 2

If the feta cheese is unpasteurized, you should ensure that you use it in a well cooked dish. According to the Ohio State University, Listeria bacteria can be destroyed by cooking the food under a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than two minutes. To ensure that the food you are preparing reaches this temperature, you may use a meat thermometer, which should be inserted at various points to take the temperature reading of the dish.

Step 3

If you cannot cook the unpasteurized feta, you should melt it in a double boiler. To achieve this, place a large glass bowl above a pot that contains boiling water. However, the bowl should not be allowed to touch the boiling water. Allow the steam from the pot of boiling water to melt the cheese until it reaches a temperature of 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Such molten feta cheese may be used as an omelet or vegetable dip for the pregnant mothers.

Facts About Feta Cheese and Pregnancy You Should Know

Is Goat Cheese Pasteurized?

Goat cheese may be made from raw unpasteurized or pasteurized milk. However, this will be indicated on the cheese label. If made from the raw goat milk, the cheese will need to be hardened for about 60 days. Other than having to wait for this long, fresh cheese is made from pasteurized milk. To achieve this, various methods may be used. While using the Vat Pasteurization, the goat milk is maintained at a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for not less than 30 minutes before it is chilled. Alternatively, the High Temperature/Short Time method may be used to make pasteurized goat milk. While using this method, the goat milk is subjected to a temperature of 162 degrees Fahrenheit for about 17 seconds. The Ultra High Temperature method of making pasteurized goat cheese requires that the milk be subjected to a temperature of 275 degrees Fahrenheit for a second. All these methods are aimed at getting rid of the Listeria bacteria.

Is Feta Cheese and Goat Cheese the Same Thing?

Currently, feta cheese does not necessarily mean goat cheese. Some years ago, feta cheese was made during the summer, when shepherds took their goats and sheep to the mountains in search of pastures. In such a case, the cheese was either made from goat milk or a combination of goat and sheep milk. Currently, some manufacturers still make feta cheese from goat milk. However, feta cheese in the US is manufactured from cow milk.

Cheese and Pregnancy: Which to Choose and Which to Avoid?

While cheese is a rich source of calcium for the body, some cheese types are not safe for the pregnant ladies. Mentioned here are the cheese types to have and the types to avoid.

  • Safe cheeses during pregnancy

Some of the safe cheese types include the hard cheeses, such as cheshire, caerphilly, double gloucester, cheddar, English goat's cheddar, Edam, feta, emmental, halloumi, Gouda, havarti, gruyere, Lancashire, orkney, parmesan, red Leicester and manchego.

Alternatively, you can also have the soft, processed cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as cottage cheese, garlic and herb roulade, feta, cream cheese, goat's cheese without rind, mozzarella and mascarpone. Processed cheese, like ricotta, quark as well as cheese spread and cheese segments are also safe for the pregnant mothers.

  • Unsafe cheeses during pregnancy

The soft cheeses that are mould-ripened, whether pasteurized or unpasteurized, should be avoided. Such cheeses include camembert, blue brie, brie, cambozola, chevre, chaumes, vacherin fribourgeois and Pont l’Eveque. You should also avoid the Blue-veined cheeses like blue Wensleydale, bergader, Shropshire blue, bleu d'auvergne, dolcelatte, Danish blue, tome, Roquefort, gorgonzola and roncal.