Preparing food safely

  • wash fruit, vegetables and salads to remove all traces of soil, which may contain toxoplasma, a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis – which can harm your unborn baby
  • wash all surfaces and utensils, and your hands, after preparing raw meat – this will help to avoid toxoplasmosis.
  • make sure that raw foods are stored separately from ready-to-eat foods, otherwise there's a risk of contamination. This is to avoid other types of food poisoning from meat (such as salmonella, campylobacter and E.coli).
  • use a separate chopping board for raw meats.
  • heat ready meals until they're piping hot all the way through – this is especially important for meals containing poultry.
  • make sure that some foods, such as eggs, poultry, burgers, sausages and whole cuts of meat like lamb, beef and pork are cooked very thoroughly.
For tips, read Food Standards Australia and New Zealand.


Listeria bacteria

Listeria bacteria can cause miscarriage, premature birth or, in rare cases, still birth. Thorough cooking of foods kills the bacteria so ensure you cook food until it is steaming hot.

Some foods carry a higher risk of listeria, to be safe you should:
  • only keep left overs for 1 day and reheat them until steaming hot
  • If you buy ready-to-eat hot food such as BBQ chicken, make sure it is hot and either eat immediately or store in the fridge, and use within 1 day
Food to avoid
  • ready-to-eat food from salad bars, sandwich bars, buffets and delicatessens
  • foods which are past their ‘use by’ or ‘best before’ date
  • soft cheese e.g. camembert, brie, feta, ricotta, cottage, blue cheese
  • raw seafood e.g. sushi and oysters
  • deli meats and pate
  • smoked salmon and precooked prawns
  • soft serve ice cream

Read more on listeria and making safe food choices during pregnancy .


Fish is an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, iodine and omega-3 healthy oils. You can safely eat 2-3 serves of most types of fish, however there are some to limit during pregnancy because they can contain higher levels of mercury.

You can safely consume fish like cooked salmon or barrmundi, canned tuna, salmon and sardines.
  • 2-3 serves (150g) of any fish / seafood not listed below
  • OR
  • 1 serve (150g) per week of Orange Roughy (Sea Perch) or Catfish and no other fish that week
  • OR
  • 1 serve per (150g) fortnight of Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish / Broadbill / Marlin) and no other fish that fortnight

Read more on mercury and safe fish consumption during pregnancy.


It is safe to consume one to three coffees (depending on strength) or up to five cups of tea per day. Energy drinks can contain large amounts of caffeine, Guarana and other stimulants, and should be avoided.

Vitamin A and Liver

Liver should be limited to 50g per week as it can contain more than the recommended intake of vitamin A.

Can I drink alcohol when I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant, no alcohol at all is the safest choice. There is no safe time to drink during pregnancy as alcohol can harm your baby for life.

Herbal Supplements

Many herbal preparations have a drug-like effect. These should be used with the same caution as with other drugs. Please call the NPS (National Prescribing Service) Medicines line for any information regarding alternative treatments in pregnancy, phone 1300 633 424.


There are a few foods that you should avoid or limit due to listeria bacteria and mercury. You should also monitor the amount of caffeine you consume and limit foods containing vitamin A, such as liver.