Eating healthy nutritious foods is one focus in pregnancy but food safety is another. Food safety is about the safe preparation of foods to avoid food poisoning, including Listeria and Toxoplasmosis infection, and other food risks such as the mercury content of certain fish, as well as unsafe levels of caffeine and alcohol.
- Food poisoning results from consuming food or drink contaminated with unsafe levels of certain bacteria, viruses or toxins. Poor personal hygiene and food handling practices are the most common causes.
- Symptoms can vary but the most common are nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhoea, headaches and/or fever. Symptoms can take between a few hours to a few days to develop and may last for a few days, depending on the cause. See The Food Authority NSW (external link).
Symptoms may be more severe and prolonged in pregnant women due to reduced immunity. In rare cases, some infections (e.g. salmonellosis, listeriosis) may trigger miscarriage, premature labour or stillbirth.
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite found in raw meat, in the faeces of cats and anything that may have been exposed to soil contaminated by faeces. Toxoplasmosis rarely infects pregnant women however it is important to minimise the risk of infection as it can lead to brain damage and blindness in the unborn child. How to avoid toxoplasmosis:
Safe food choice and handling
- Table adapted from The Food Authority NSW (external link)
- Listeria monocytogenes is a food-borne bacterium of particular concern during pregnancy when the immune systems of both mother and child are more vulnerable.
Listeria bacteria occur commonly in our environment but uncommonly affect healthy adults (Listeriosis), usually producing mild flu-like symptoms. However, if a pregnant woman is infected with Listeria the impact on her unborn child could be severe, resulting in miscarriage, premature labour, or stillbirth.
- Fortunately there are a number of food selection and hygiene practices that you can employ to avoid Listeria and other food-borne infections. See key rules for food safety and the safe food guide for pregnancy.
- For more information see:
- Pregnancy and food safety from the Food Authority NSW.
- Listeria and food - the risk to people with weakened immune systems (external link)
- Listeria and food: commonly asked questions (external link)
- Listeria and pregnancy - Food Standards Australia New Zealand – (external link) video clip
Ngala Books & DVDs
- For families of babies and
young children who reside or work in W.A.,
if you need further assistance contact the Ngala Helpline
Telephone 9368 9368 or Country Access 1800 111 546
8am to 8pm 7 days a week or
When: 21 Feb, 9:30am
Birth to 4 months: A 5-week series of workshops for parents with a newborn baby. Each workshop covers a wide range of topics about you and your new baby and provides the opportunity to meet and connect with other new parents in your local area.