Can you eat brie if pasteurized when pregnant?

Eating soft cheeses like brie while pregnant is a controversial topic. Brie, along with other soft cheeses, can harbor bacteria like Listeria monocytogenes which can cause life-threatening infections in pregnant women and their unborn babies. However, if the brie is pasteurized, the risk is greatly reduced. Here is a comprehensive look at the safety of eating pasteurized brie while pregnant.

The Risks of Eating Unpasteurized Brie During Pregnancy

Eating unpasteurized brie and other soft cheeses comes with risks during pregnancy. Here are the main concerns:

  • Listeria monocytogenes – This bacteria can contaminate unpasteurized dairy products and soft cheeses. Listeria can cross the placenta and infect the fetus, potentially leading to miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm labor, or life-threatening infection in the newborn.
  • Other harmful bacteria – Unpasteurized dairy may also harbor pathogens like Salmonella, E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Campylobacter. These can cause food poisoning and dehydration in pregnant women.
  • Toxoplasma gondii – This parasite can contaminate raw milk and soft cheeses. It can cause birth defects like blindness and mental disability if contracted during pregnancy.

Due to these risks, health organizations typically recommend avoiding all unpasteurized dairy products during pregnancy. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) specifically advises pregnant women to avoid soft cheeses made from raw milk, like queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined cheeses, and Mexican-style soft cheeses.

Is Pasteurized Brie Safe During Pregnancy?

Pasteurization is a process that heats milk or cheese to kill off any dangerous bacteria that may be present. The CDC considers pasteurized dairy products safe for pregnant women because the pasteurization process eliminates disease-causing microbes.

So pasteurized brie, Camembert, and other soft cheeses are generally considered safe to eat during pregnancy as long as they are properly pasteurized. Pasteurized brie labeled as “made from pasteurized milk” is the safest choice.

Here are some other tips for safely eating pasteurized brie when pregnant:

  • Check the label – Make sure it is made from pasteurized milk and that the label says “pasteurized.” If it simply says “made from milk” without specifying pasteurization, it may be unpasteurized.
  • Buy from reputable sources – Purchase pasteurized brie from well-known brands at major grocery stores, not local farms or farmer’s markets where standards may be unclear.
  • Avoid mold – Do not eat brie if it has any mold, which can harbor bacteria.
  • Watch expiration dates – Make sure brie is fresh and consume by expiration dates.
  • Heat it – Cooking pasteurized brie to steaming hot or 165°F kills any remaining bacteria.

Expert Recommendations on Eating Pasteurized Brie

Most major health organizations state that pasteurized brie and soft cheeses are safe during pregnancy. Here are the recommendations from some top sources:

  • CDC: Allows pasteurized brie. “To reduce the risk of disease, pregnant women should only eat soft cheeses if they are made from pasteurized milk.”
  • FDA: Considers pasteurized brie safe and says pregnant women need to avoid only unpasteurized products: “Pregnant women and others who are especially vulnerable to Listeria infections should avoid eating unpasteurized (raw) refrigerated products.”
  • NHS: Recommends only eating pasteurized or cooked brie: “It’s safe to eat hard cheeses, such as cheddar, or cottage cheese and processed cheese because they’re made with pasteurized milk.”
  • ACOG: “Pregnant patients should be encouraged to eat only cheeses made from pasteurized milk, such as domestic hard cheeses, pasteurized cream cheese, and mozzarella.”

So while unpasteurized brie is off-limits for expecting mothers, major health agencies give pasteurized brie the green light during pregnancy as long as it handled safely.

Nutrition Profile of Brie Cheese

Here is the nutrition information for a 1-ounce serving of brie cheese made from whole milk:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 94
Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 5g
Carbs 0.7g
Protein 6g
Calcium 7% DV
Phosphorus 9% DV

Brie provides a good amount of protein and important minerals like calcium and phosphorus. The high calcium content makes it a great cheese choice during pregnancy when getting adequate calcium for fetal bone development is crucial.

However, brie is high in saturated fat and calories, so portion control is important. Enjoy it in moderation along with other nutrient-dense foods.

Health Benefits of Eating Pasteurized Brie During Pregnancy

Here are some of the main health benefits that pasteurized brie cheese can offer when pregnant:

  • Calcium for baby’s bones and teeth – Brie provides calcium, which helps build your baby’s bones and teeth. Calcium needs increase during pregnancy.
  • Protein for growth and development – The protein in cheese supports fetal tissue growth and development.
  • Vitamin B12 – Brie contains vitamin B12 needed for red blood cell formation in mom and baby.
  • Phosphorus – This mineral supports bone health along with calcium.
  • Other nutrients – Brie provides some vitamin A, zinc, riboflavin, and selenium.

The high nutrient content of pasteurized brie makes it a healthy addition to the pregnancy diet when consumed in moderation. The calcium is especially important for proper fetal bone formation.

Potential Downsides of Eating Brie When Pregnant

While pasteurized brie offers nutrition benefits, there are some potential downsides to consider:

  • High in saturated fat – Brie contains significant saturated fat, which pregnant women are advised to limit.
  • Risk of weight gain – The high fat and calorie content can lead to excess weight gain if eaten in large amounts.
  • Sodium content – Brie, especially if processed, can be high in sodium which may increase swelling and blood pressure.
  • Allergies – Some women may be allergic or intolerant to milk proteins in cheese.

For most women, eating brie in moderation as part of a healthy diet should not pose risks. But those who gain excess weight or have high blood pressure or allergies need to be cautious and limit intake.

How Much Pasteurized Brie Can You Eat When Pregnant?

Health experts typically recommend limiting brie to just 1-2 servings per week during pregnancy. One serving equals about 1-2 ounces of cheese.

Consuming brie only occasionally in small amounts is unlikely to carry food poisoning risks. But eating it daily or in large quantities may be unsafe.

To get some of brie’s benefits without overdoing it, pregnant women can:

  • Use small amounts of brie as a topping or ingredient just 1-2 times per week.
  • Limit portion size to 1-2 ounces at a time.
  • Pair brie with healthy foods like whole grain crackers, fruit, or veggies.
  • Add protein and nutrients by combining brie with nuts, seeds, beans, or lean meat.

Moderation and proper handling are key when eating pasteurized brie during pregnancy. Consuming excessive amounts on a regular basis may not be advised.

Best Ways to Eat Pasteurized Brie When Pregnant

Here are some healthier ways to enjoy pasteurized brie cheese during pregnancy:

  • Spread on whole wheat toast or crackers
  • Add to omelets or frittatas
  • Melt on top of chicken, seafood, or lean beef
  • Combine with fruit and nuts on a salad
  • Add to a sandwich with veggie fillings
  • Blend into healthy dips and spreads
  • Top off crackers, bread, or baked potatoes
  • Stuff into chicken breast along with spinach and roasted peppers
  • Mix into risotto or pasta dish
  • Layer with tomatoes and basil

Cooking brie into hot dishes ensures any bacteria are killed. Pairing it with healthy sides increases nutritional value. And limiting portion size keeps fat and calories under control.

Safe Food Handling of Pasteurized Brie

To stay safe when eating pasteurized brie, always follow proper food safety practices:

  • Refrigerate brie at 40°F or below after purchase and between uses.
  • Check “sell-by” or “use-by” dates and discard expired cheese.
  • Ensure there is no mold growth, which can raise bacterial levels.
  • Wash hands, knives, and cutting boards before and after handling.
  • Cook brie to 165°F if being served after sitting out.
  • Do not eat at restaurants or delis where unpasteurized cheese may be served by mistake.
  • Avoid eating brie that is served at room temperature, like on a cheese board.
  • Discard any leftover brie within 7 days.

Careful storage, cooking, expiration dates, and hygiene help minimize any foodborne illness risks linked to pasteurized brie and other soft cheeses.

Alternative Cheeses to Brie During Pregnancy

If you want to avoid brie altogether when expecting, some nutritious alternatives include:

  • Mozzarella – Offers calcium for fetal development. Use fresh mozzarella within 1 week.
  • Swiss – Provides protein, calcium, vitamin D. Opt for low-sodium varieties.
  • Cheddar – Loaded with calcium and relatively low in sodium. Stick to pasteurized.
  • Monterey Jack – Melts well and provides calcium, vitamin A. Limit to pasteurized.
  • Queso fresco – If made with pasteurized milk, delivers protein, calcium. Note some brands use raw milk.
  • Ricotta – Made from pasteurized whey, offers protein. Use within a few days.
  • Cottage cheese – Provides folate and vitamin B12. Choose low-sodium, pasteurized products.

There are many tasty pasteurized cheese options that can provide ample nutrition for pregnant women and their growing babies.


Why avoid unpasteurized brie when pregnant?

Unpasteurized brie may contain dangerous bacteria like Listeria, E. coli, and Salmonella that can lead to life-threatening illnesses in pregnant women and newborns. Pasteurization kills these harmful pathogens.

What happens if you eat unpasteurized cheese while pregnant?

Consuming raw milk soft cheeses like unpasteurized brie can expose pregnant women to foodborne pathogens. This may result in infections of the uterus and placenta leading to pregnancy complications. In severe cases, it may cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal sepsis.

Can I eat brie if cooked while pregnant?

Yes, thoroughly cooking brie to an internal temperature of 165°F kills any potential bacteria present. Cooking pasteurized brie provides an extra layer of protection against foodborne illness.

What kind of cheese can I not eat while pregnant?

Avoid all unpasteurized and raw milk cheeses like brie, blue cheese, feta, Camembert, and Mexican-style queso fresco. Also do not eat any soft cheeses with mold like Brie or Gorgonzola as mold raises bacterial levels.

Can I eat goat brie when pregnant?

Goat brie is safe during pregnancy as long as it is properly pasteurized. Read labels closely to ensure any goat milk brie is made from pasteurized milk and has no mold before eating.

The Bottom Line

Pasteurized brie made from pasteurized cow or goat milk can be safely consumed during pregnancy in moderation. But pregnant women should avoid all unpasteurized brie and other soft raw milk cheeses due to the risk of foodborne illnesses from bacteria.

Enjoying an occasional 1-2 ounce portion of pasteurized brie ensures pregnant women get its nutritional benefits without being exposed to pathogens. Practicing proper safety, hygiene, cooking, storage, and expiration dates also minimizes any risks.

While unpasteurized brie is off the table for expecting mothers, pasteurized varieties can be safely enjoyed as part of a healthy, well-rounded pregnancy diet when consumed in recommended amounts.

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