Eating brie while pregnant is a controversial topic. Many pregnant women wonder if it’s safe or if they need to avoid soft cheeses like brie due to food safety concerns.
This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about eating brie during pregnancy. It provides research-backed information on:
- The risks associated with brie and other soft cheeses during pregnancy
- How to choose safe brie and minimize risks
- Pasteurization and expiration dates
- Expert medical opinions on eating brie
- Safe cheese alternatives to brie
After reading, you’ll understand the most current guidance on consuming brie cheese while pregnant, so you can make an informed decision for yourself and your baby.
Can I Eat Brie While Pregnant? The Potential Risks
Brie is a soft, creamy cheese with a white, edible rind. Traditional brie is made from unpasteurized milk, meaning it has not been heat-treated to kill pathogens like bacteria.
The main safety concern with brie and other soft raw milk cheeses during pregnancy is possible listeria contamination.
Listeria is a type of harmful bacteria that can cause an illness called listeriosis. For healthy adults, a listeria infection may just cause moderate flu-like symptoms.
However, for pregnant women, listeriosis can lead to pregnancy complications like miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm labor. The bacteria can also be passed to the fetus via the placenta, possibly causing severe illness in newborns.
So why is listeria a bigger concern with soft cheeses like brie?
First, the soft texture of these cheeses provides a hospitable environment for bacteria to grow and multiply. Hard cheeses don’t allow as much bacterial growth.
Additionally, traditional brie is made from raw, unpasteurized milk. Pasteurization involves briefly heating milk to high temperatures to kill pathogens like listeria before preparing the cheese.
- Brie is a soft cheese traditionally made with raw milk, which may contain harmful listeria bacteria.
- Listeria infections during pregnancy can cause complications like miscarriage, stillbirth, and illness in newborns.
- The soft texture and raw milk used in brie raise concerns about listeria risk.
Minimizing the Risks of Eating Brie While Pregnant
While the risks may sound concerning, there are ways to minimize the chance of consuming contaminated brie:
Only Purchase Pasteurized Brie
The most important factor is to only choose pasteurized brie that has been made from heat-treated milk. This heating process destroys any dangerous bacteria present.
Pasteurized brie has undergone the same safety measures as pasteurized hard cheeses, and there are no special restrictions on those during pregnancy.
To confirm pasteurization, read the labels carefully. Avoid any brie that does not clearly state it is “pasteurized” or “made from pasteurized milk”.
If unsure, it’s best to choose a different cheese. Make sure pasteurized brie is purchased after its “sell-by” date too.
Check the Expiration Date
Carefully check expiration or “use-by” dates on brie. As a perishable food, brie has a fairly short shelf life of just 1-2 months from the production date.
Choose the freshest brie possible and avoid any that is past expiration. Never eat moldy brie, as mold means the cheese is decomposing and bacteria has likely grown.
Properly Store Brie
Once purchased, store pasteurized brie in the original packaging in the refrigerator, keeping it at 40°F or below. Cold temperatures inhibit the growth of listeria and other bacteria.
Only remove the amount of brie you plan to immediately eat. Properly seal the remaining cheese and return it to the fridge. Discard any leftovers after a few days.
Soft cheeses like brie have higher moisture content, so storage in the vegetable crisper drawer can help control humidity and prevent mold growth. You can also place brie in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap for optimal freshness.
Cook Brie Before Consuming
Heating brie to very hot temperatures helps kill any bacteria in or on the cheese. High-heat cooking methods like baking, grilling, and pan-frying are best.
Aim to cook brie until the center reaches 160°F, like in baked brie recipes. Food should be steaming hot or sizzling to ensure bacteria has been destroyed.
Avoid Foods Made with Unpasteurized Brie
Aside from the cheese itself, also avoid brie-based foods prepared in restaurants or delis unless you can confirm all ingredients were made with pasteurized brie. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Carefully choose only pasteurized brie and check expiration dates
- Refrigerate brie properly at 40°F or below
- Cook brie thoroughly until steaming hot before eating
- Avoid brie-containing foods made with unknown ingredients
Expert Opinions on Eating Brie During Pregnancy
With conflicting advice circulating online, it helps to consult expert opinions on brie consumption during pregnancy directly from health organizations and medical professionals.
Here are some key trusted perspectives on eating brie while pregnant:
The FDA Recommends Avoiding Unpasteurized Brie
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) provides guidelines on foods to avoid during pregnancy. On soft cheeses, they recommend:
“Do not eat soft cheeses such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, or queso fresco unless they are labeled as made with pasteurized milk.”
So the FDA gives the all-clear for pasteurized brie, reinforcing it as the safest option.
The NHS Approves Pasteurized Brie in Pregnancy
The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) states pregnant women can safely eat hard cheeses and soft cheese “as long as they’re made from pasteurized milk.”
The CDC Recommends Heating Brie Before Eating
Per the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), pregnant women can reduce their risk by thoroughly cooking soft cheeses like brie before eating them.
Heating brie until steaming hot or “bubbling” destroys any listeria bacteria present. So the CDC confirms high-heat cooking as an extra safety precaution.
Obstetricians Approve Pasteurized Brie in Moderation
Most obstetricians and maternal health experts agree that pasteurized brie made from heated milk is safe for pregnant women to consume in moderation when fresh and properly stored.
However, some still advise avoiding all soft cheeses as an extra precaution unless they are cooked at high heat first. Speak to your doctor about their specific recommendations.
Healthy Pasteurized Cheese Alternatives to Brie
If you want to play it safe and avoid brie entirely during pregnancy, many other delicious pasteurized cheese options are available. Here are some healthy alternatives:
- Cheddar – This semi-hard cheese is pasteurized and safe for pregnancy when fresh. Opt for white cheddar for a buttery, creamy flavor.
- Mozzarella – Fresh mozzarella provides the soft melt-in-your mouth texture of brie in a pasteurized form. Part-skim mozzarella offers an extra nutrition boost.
- Cottage Cheese – The high moisture content gives cottage cheese a similar creamy richness. Purchase pasteurized cottage cheese from the refrigerated section.
- Goat Cheese – Look for pasteurized, soft-ripened goat cheese for a distinct tangy flavor. Goat milk has smaller fat molecules that are more easily digested.
- Mascarpone – Smooth and spreadable, mascarpone is Italian double or triple-cream cheese made from pasteurized cow’s milk. Use it on desserts or as a cream cheese substitute.
- Ricotta – This soft Italian whey cheese provides a creamy dish topping. Opt for whole milk ricotta varieties over part-skim.
- Queso Fresco – When made with pasteurized milk, this fresh Mexican cheese makes a safe brie substitute with a mild, milky taste.
Key Takeaways on Eating Brie During Pregnancy
To summarize the top advice on consuming brie when pregnant:
- Only eat brie made from pasteurized, heat-treated milk to minimize listeria risk. Always double-check the label or packaging.
- Carefully inspect expiration dates and only purchase brie before the use-by date. Refrigerate brie properly after opening.
- Cooking brie thoroughly until steaming hot kills any bacteria present. Baked brie is a safer option.
- Check with your doctor about their recommendations on brie and other soft cheese consumption during pregnancy.
- If in doubt, choose a pasteurized cheese alternative like cheddar, mozzarella, or goat cheese instead.
With the right precautions, pregnancy-safe brie can still be enjoyed! But when unsure, there are plenty of delicious pasteurized cheese options to substitute brie entirely.
Hopefully this guide gave you all the details needed to make an informed decision on eating brie cheese during your pregnancy. Trust your personal preferences paired with expert guidance for the healthiest results.
Frequently Asked Questions About Eating Brie While Pregnant
Can I eat brie if it is baked?
Yes, thoroughly baked brie is safe to eat during pregnancy. Baking heats the cheese throughout to hot temperatures that destroy any potential listeria bacteria present.
Aim for the brie center to reach 160°F. Let it cool slightly before eating to avoid burning your mouth.
What if brie is cooked in a hot pasta dish or soup?
As with baking, boiling or simmering brie in hot dishes heats the cheese enough to kill bacteria. Ensurerecipes are thoroughly cooked until steaming to be safe.
Is it safe to eat brie if I peel the rind off?
No, removing the rind does not make unpasteurized brie safe. Bacteria can still be present within and throughout the soft cheese itself. Only eat brie with the rind on if it is labeled pasteurized.
Can I eat brie made from raw goat or sheep milk?
No, only opt for brie made from pasteurized milk, whether it’s from cows, goats, or sheep. The pasteurization process is what destroys potentially harmful bacteria. Soft raw milk cheeses should be avoided.
What about aged brie that’s very firm?
Even if a brie is aged until firmer, it still poses a potential risk if it’s made from raw unpasteurized milk. Only consume pasteurized varieties of any soft cheeses, aged or not. Check labels.