Can you eat provolone when pregnant? The answer to this question is a little bit complicated.
On the one hand, there are no specific guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that say whether or not it is safe to eat provolone cheese during pregnancy.
Here is what FDA said:
Although cheese standards allow the use of unpasteurized milk provided the cheese is aged at not less than 35oF for 60 days (longer for some cheese), utilization of unpasteurized milk should be considered potentially hazardous.by FDA
However, on the other hand, many doctors recommend avoiding high-mercury fish and foods that may contain listeria bacteria, which includes unpasteurized cheese.
So what should you do? Keep reading for more information about provolone and pregnancy!
What is Provolone?
Provolone cheese is a type of Italian cheese that has a smooth, creamy texture and a mild flavor. It is made from cow’s milk and can be either smoked or unsmoked.
Is Provolone Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Provolone is safe, but pasteurization of milk is key here. However, some Italian production of traditional PDO provolone did not use or follow pasteurization. The cheesemakers use a sub-pasteurization heat treatment called thermization. Think of it as a lite-pasteurization, which is either shorter durations or at lower temperatures.
This sanitizing method is used to reduce the bacteria while retaining the optimal taste of the cheese and extending shelf life. So, there are basically two routes for cheesemakers. One is strictly adhering to pasteurized milk losing the PDO status, and the other is the thermization with PDO label but have to make sure the cheese is aged for 60 days or longer.
Back to the question, can you eat provolone when pregnant? Yes, since both methods are legally approved to be sold in the US.
However, some pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria may not always be inactivated.Stated by FDA.
Practically for pregnancy, I’d recommend finding the right provolone brands that use pasteurized milk.
What Are Some of the Best Brands of Provolone for (and not for) Pregnant Women?
Below I listed a few of the popular provolone brands you can get in the United States. Some were imported, while some are locally made. Be noted that many of them are using raw or thermalized cow milk, which may not be suitable for pregnancy.
One of the most popular brands of provolone is Auricchio. This brand offers both smoked and unsmoked varieties, all of which are stated to be made with pasteurized milk.
Provolone Valpadana PDO
Even though it’s stated as “pasteurized”, their production page indicates thermization of milk, not really pasteurization.
This brand of provolone is sold under Murray’s Cheese and a few other resellers. It uses raw unpasteurized milk according to Murray’s Cheese.
Provolone del Monaco PDO
Another well-known provolone brand loved by many. This cheese is using unpasteurized raw milk in production.