Eating well during pregnancy is essential, but at the same time it is also essential to eat safely. The changes taking place in your body make you more susceptible to infections. Hence, you or those preparing your food must always be careful with food handling and preparation.
There are four necessary steps to safer food
- Keep Clean
- Wash your hands in warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds before handling food.
- Wash and clean all utensils and equipment used for food preparation.
- Clean kitchen surfaces with paper towels. If using cloth towels, wash them often.
- Wash fruits, vegetables, and salads to remove all traces of soil.
- Wash firm-skin fruits and vegetables under running tap water, including those with skins or peels that are not eaten.
- Separate raw and cooked food- Don’t cross-contaminate
- Separate raw meat, poultry, and fishes/seafood, from other food items in your shopping bags and refrigerator.
- Use separate utensils such as plates, knives, cutting boards for handling raw foods. Wash thoroughly all utensils that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before using them again.
- Store food in sealed containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.
- Cook thoroughly
- Ensure that foods such as eggs, poultry, and seafood are cooked very thoroughly until steaming all the way through.
- Boil foods like dals, curries, soups, etc.
- When cooking meat and poultry, make sure the juices run clear.
- If consuming leftover food, reheat the food thoroughly.
- Keep food at safe temperature
- Do not keep cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
- Refrigerate or freeze meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and other perishables within 2 hours of cooking or purchasing.
- Do not store food for too long after cooking (even in the refrigerator).
- Thaw frozen food in the fridge, in cold water or the microwave, and never at room temperature.
Tips when shopping for food
- Buy cold or frozen food items at the end of your shopping trip.
- Make it a habit to check the “best before” date on your purchase.
- Do not buy damaged fruits and vegetables.
Tips for storing food
- Set your fridge at 4°C (40°F) or lower and freezer at -18°C (0°F) or lower.
- To prevent the dripping of raw juices, put raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood in sealed containers, and keep them on the bottom shelf of your fridge.
- Store cut fruits and vegetables in the fridge.
- U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services. Food safety for pregnant women [Internet]. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/files/food/published/Food-Safety-for-Pregnant-Women_1.pdf. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.
- New Zealand Food Safety. Food safety in pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/3675-food-safety-in-pregnancy. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.
- NHS. Have a healthy diet in pregnancy [Internet]. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/healthy-pregnancy-diet/. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.
- Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. The ‘eat right’ handbook [Internet]. Available at: https://eatrightindia.gov.in/EatRightIndia/rbook/file/Eat%20Right%20Toolkit%20Handbook2020_English.pdf. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.
- Toronto Public Health. Making connections you and your growing baby [Internet]. Available at: https://www.gov.mb.ca/healthychild/healthybaby/hb_makingconnectionsA.pdf. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.
- Government of Canada. Food safety for pregnant women [Internet]. Available at: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-safety-vulnerable-populations/food-safety-pregnant-women.html. Accessed on Jun 23, 2020.