Medical Q&As

Mascarpone chees - safe in pregnancy?

Is it safe to eat mascarpone cheese when pregnant?

Mascarpone cheese is safe to eat during pregnancy. I assume that you have asked this question because of concerns regarding the possibility of becoming infected from the food you eat and the attendant risks that would pose for an unborn child. Two infections merit particular attention in that regard, namely listeriosis and toxoplasmosis. Listeriosis is due to infection from the listeria bacterium. It is rare and occurs in approximately 1 in 20,000 pregnancies. It can result in miscarriage or if acquired later in the pregnancy can result in severe illness in the newborn child. Listeriosis can be acquired from mould-ripened soft cheeses, blue veined cheeses and pate. It has also been acquired from ready-cooked poultry. Toxoplasmosis is even more rare and occurs in approximately 1 in 50,000 pregnancies. The organism toxoplasma can be acquired from raw meat. The family cat is another potential source of toxoplasmosis because toxoplasma can sometimes be found in cat faeces. The following cheeses are safe to eat during pregnancy, in addition to the previously mentioned mascarpone; cheddar, edam, gruyere, gouda, mozzarella, feta, emmental, parmesan and the following soft cheeses; cottage cheese, processed cheese, cheese spread, Philadelphia and ricotta. Yoghurt, crème fraiche and soured cream are also perfectly safe. On the other hand the following cheeses should be avoided; blue veined cheeses and soft ripened cheeses such as brie, cambozola and camembert. Finally it is important to stress that this answer specifically relates to cheese consumption during pregnancy and the small risk of contracting listeriosis or toxoplasmosis. Cheese is a healthy and nutritious food and its consumption during pregnancy can be safely encouraged.