Last Updated on February 11, 2023 by Aaron
Pregnancy is a beautiful and exciting journey, but it can also bring a lot of concerns and questions, especially when it comes to what foods are safe to consume.
One food item that often raises questions is cream cheese. With its rich, smooth, and creamy texture, cream cheese is a staple in many dishes and spreads. But is it safe to eat during pregnancy? what about cheesecake?
It’s advised to avoid soft cheeses, such as brie, feta, and goat cheese can carry a higher risk of foodborne illness, specifically Listeria, which can be harmful to a developing fetus. This is because these types of cheeses are often having short ripening period and higher moisture content, making them a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. Especially varieties made from unpasteurized milk, or mold-ripened smear cheeses.
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Food Safety: Should you eat cream cheese when pregnant?
The short answer is yes, cream cheese is a fresh cheese (not matured) and meant to consume fresh without aging, so it’s different from the aged variety of soft cheeses and safer for pregnant women to eat. However, it’s important to consider a few key factors.
First, it’s important to check the label to make sure that the cream cheese is made from pasteurized milk — which is heat treated to kill germs. This is important because unpasteurized dairy products, such as those made from raw unpasteurized or “homemade” milk, can contain harmful bacteria like listeria. Listeria can cause severe and sometimes life-threatening infections in pregnant women, which is why it’s crucial to avoid unpasteurized dairy products during pregnancy.
In America, you nearly can’t find a single store-bought cream cheese made from unpasteurized milk. By law, cream cheese must be pasteurized in order to be sold commercially. This requirement helps to ensure that these products are free from harmful bacteria and safe for consumers to consume.
For Neufchâtel cheese, the American versions is pasteurized so it’s safe while the traditional French version or imported ones are made from unpasteurized milk — not safe for pregnancy. Read comparison in Cream cheese vs. Neufchâtel post.
Also, make sure it’s not expired! And check for unusual odor, taste, or texture.
Cream Cheese with Foods: Cheesecake, Bagel
It’s important to keep in mind that while cream cheese is safe to consume during pregnancy, some of the foods or additional ingredients that it is paired with may not be. For example, if you are using cream cheese in a dish that also contains raw or undercooked eggs (e.g. undercooked cheesecake), which can cause salmonella food poisoning.
Some cream cheese products may contain lox or other raw fish, which should be avoided during pregnancy. If you’re unsure if your cream cheese contains raw fish, it’s best to avoid completely and to only consume it in fully cooked dishes, such as in a quiche or a chowder, where the fish has been heated to a safe temperature. Additionally, salmon (flavor) cream cheese spread is often made with cooked (or smoked) salmon as hot-smoked is fine, cold-smoked is best to avoid.
For example, the Philadelphia Smoked Salmon Cream Cheese Spread is made using 3% real smoked salmon and smoked salmon flavorings, and also with pasteurized milk, according to website. Since the company does not specify the processing method (hot- or cold-smoked), pregnant women may want to exercise caution and opt for alternative spreads or flavors.
For cream cheese bagels — yes, you can eat that— as long as the cream cheese is made with pasteurized milk and make sure bagel does not contain ingredients particularly poppy seed, which has connection to opiates, read the news incident.
Cream Cheese Nutrition for Pregnant Health
Cream cheese is a dairy product that can be part of a healthy diet during pregnancy, as long as it is consumed in moderation. Cream cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamins, which are essential nutrients for a healthy pregnancy. We have previouly discussed about the healthiest cream cheese brands you may be interested.
One important factor to consider when eating cream cheese during pregnancy is the portion size. While cream cheese is generally safe, it’s also high in fat and calories, which can contribute to weight gain during pregnancy and potentially harmful to babies.
Pregnant women should aim to consume around 3 servings of cream cheese per day, with each serving being about 1-2 tablespoons and choose low-fat or reduced-fat options when possible. It is also a good idea to go with well-known brands, such as Philadelphia. Vegan cream cheese brands, such as Miyoko’s, can contain allergens such as nuts.