Eating out when pregnant - the do's & don'ts
The safest food is usually food you've prepared yourself, but the chances are you can't avoid eating out for the entire duration of your pregnancy, so how do you choose safe foods? Here are some simple tips:
* No sushi! Sushi is a big no-no, not only because it often contains raw fish or cold chicken, but also because rice harbours a large number of bacteria rendering it unsafe.
* Avoid pre-prepared foods such as sandwiches and filled rolls. If you are buying lunch from a bakery or café, choose a pie or plain bread roll as a safer alternative.
* Piping hot is okay. Café-style foods such as panini and toasted sandwiches are safe as long as they are reheated until piping hot. Always check the middle of your panini or toasted sandwich as quite often the outside might appear piping hot whilst the inside is only luke warm. Ask to have it popped back in the sandwich press for a few minutes more.
* No eggs benedict! Sauces such as hollandaise sauce which are made with lightly cooked eggs and then kept slightly warm are a breeding ground for bacteria, and whilst those runny poached eggs might not be a listeria risk, they do pose a risk of salmonella, another potentially nasty food-borne illness.
* Cake is okay, cream, not so much! Once a container of cream, sour cream or cream cheese has been opened, it can potentially start growing bacteria, so unless you are confident that it has only just been opened, it's best to enjoy your cake without that side of cream. The same goes for cream donuts and buns from the bakery, cakes with cream cheese icing, and cheesecakes.
* Fresh is best. Where possible, avoid foods that have been pre-prepared and then stored in bains-marie, for example in food courts or buffet restaurants.
* Check out the hygiene rating. Your local district council visits all premises where food is prepared and sold and gives them a hygiene rating, usually on a scale from A (excellent) to F (poor). This rating must be displayed so as to be easily visible to customers. Where possible, choose only establishments which have an A rating.
If in doubt, don't eat it! It's not worth the risk!