As a growing number of pregnant mothers choose to become more mindful of their diets and health, it is important to consider the potential health risks of any food consumed during this crucial time. While there is no set list of foods that are universally safe for all pregnant women to eat, there are general guidelines about which foods to avoid. In particular, there is much debate about the safety of runny eggs for pregnant women. In this blog post, we will explore the risks and benefits of consuming runny eggs while pregnant, as well as some tips to help ensure that runny eggs are prepared safely. It is important to note that pregnant mothers should always consult their health care provider or a registered dietician for personalized dietary advice.
Can I eat eggs that are not Red Lion?
If the eggs are not British Lion or not from hens, you can still eat them, but make sure the whites and yolks are fully cooked. The risk of salmonella, which can result in food poisoning, exists otherwise.
Eggs should never be consumed raw or lightly cooked without first checking for the Red Lion stamp. Keep in mind to use them by the best before date and to store them properly.
Is it safe to eat eggs while pregnant?
Yes, but make sure theyre fully cooked or pasteurized.
Salmonella bacteria, which can cause food poisoning, can be found in raw or undercooked eggs, which can cause disease. Pregnant women are more susceptible to foodborne illness because pregnancy temporarily lowers immune system.
You’re likely to experience a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration if you contract Salmonella. These symptoms may be severe enough in some situations to result in preterm labor or even a miscarriage.
Pasteurization and cooking destroy Salmonella bacteria. To ensure that any bacteria have been eliminated, it is crucial to only consume fully cooked or pasteurized eggs during pregnancy.
Youll also want to avoid:
Dishes that contain raw or undercooked eggs (unless those eggs are pasteurized).
All dishes with raw or undercooked eggs served in restaurants, since its hard to verify whether pasteurized eggs are being used when youre eating out.
Deli foods made with eggs, such as deviled eggs and egg salad, unless youre positive that the food has been prepared safely (thoroughly cooked, for example) and has been sitting out for less than two hours (or one hour on a very warm day). Its safest to make these foods at home instead, so you know the eggs were cooked and handled following proper food safety measures.
Egg Dishes That Pregnant Women Should Avoid
Some dishes contain raw or undercooked eggs, but it’s not always clear that they do. The common foods listed below may be best avoided during pregnancy because they contain eggs:
Hollandaise sauce – This is an emulsion of raw egg yolk and butter (which is why it’s so delicious), but unfortunately hollandaise sauce is not suitable for pregnant women. The eggs aren’t cooked to a high enough temperature to make them safe, and the sauce is often kept warm in restaurant kitchens prior to being served. The most recent time I had food poisoning was from hollandaise sauce, and this was in a 5-star kitchen. It cannot be made ‘safe’ by cooking it longer or the sauce splits, so sadly it has to be avoided altogether if you’re pregnant.
Béarnaise, Maltaise, mousseline sauces made from hollandaise as the ‘mother sauce’ – this means any sauce with a different name that is essentially hollandaise, with additions. For example, Béarnaise is hollandaise sauce, with added tarragon, shallot and pepper. It’s the same ‘base’ sauce (what the French call a ‘mother sauce’), so also uses raw egg and should be avoided. If you’re eating a sauce you’re unfamiliar with, ask about the ingredients first.
By extension of hollandaise sauce, Eggs Benedict is a dish that pregnant women should avoid. It’s a double whammy of poached eggs topped with hollandaise sauce, and both the eggs and the sauce are not safe for pregnant women to eat. Eggs Royale has the dubious honor of being even worse, since it contains raw fish (smoked salmon) as well, so pregnant women should avoid it. Almost all ‘benedict’ dishes contain poached eggs or hollandaise, so these should be swapped for something else when pregnant.
Mousse (all flavors) – this is often set with raw egg and refrigerated, without the egg being cooked. Usually, this is only the case with homemade recipes or mousses, which call for raw egg and should be avoided. Restaurant or commercial mousse is often made with pasteurized egg and is therefore safe, but always ask first and check the ingredients.
Meringue (all types: Swiss, French and Italian) – these are all made with raw egg whites and traditionally, the egg white isn’t cooked through when it’s blended with sugar or syrup and whipped. Avoid soft meringues such as lemon meringue pie topping, unless it’s made with Lion Mark eggs in the UK, or is pasteurized. Crisp, hard brittle meringues, such as meringue nests or the type you smash up to make Eton Mess, are safe in pregnancy as they are usually cooked when it’s baked.
Ice Cream – egg is often used raw in some ice cream or frozen custard recipes. Again, this usually only applies to homemade versions, because commercial ice cream usually contains pasteurized ingredients. I wrote a whole separate article on eating ice cream in pregnancy, and also another on what pregnant women ought to know about frozen custard and yogurt, which you might be interested in.
“No-bake” recipes like cheesecake set in the fridge – as with mousse, some desserts are ‘set’ with egg in the fridge rather than being baked. Some European/Continental style cheesecakes use this type of recipe, where the egg isn’t cooked and the cheesecake is set in the refrigerator. Baked cheesecake is fine to eat in pregnancy, though you may also want to read my pregnant women’s guide to cheesecake as well.
Mayonnaise – similar to hollandaise, mayo in its traditional form is an emulsion of egg yolk, acid (lemon juice or vinegar), and oil. If it’s homemade, it may contain raw egg, and so should be avoided by pregnant women. Check with any restaurant as some make it from scratch from raw egg. All commercial mayo (the kind you buy in jars in a store) uses pasteurized egg, so is safe. You may like to read this article I wrote all about mayonnaise when you’re pregnant.
Salad Dressings – Some of these are made with egg yolk and aren’t cooked. Caesar dressing often contains egg yolk, and the recipe differs as to whether raw or cooked yolks are used, so check first if eating out or making your own. Commercial dressings (store-bought) should contain pasteurized egg yolk and be safe in pregnancy, but homemade and some restaurant dressings should be avoided.
Raw batter and dough – if you’re used to licking the spoon when making cookies or other types of baking, be aware that the batter mix will contain raw egg (and often, raw flour) and should, therefore, be avoided in pregnancy. It’s not all doom and gloom, though – there are many commercially-made cookie doughs that are suitable to eat raw. I wrote an article on cookie dough ice cream which also contains everything you need to know about cookie dough and pregnancy, including brands that are safe to eat raw.
Egg Salad (including the type with mayonnaise) – this may be unsafe because the eggs are usually medium to hardboiled, and you’ll have to check that they were definitely hardboiled eggs before being chopped into the salad. Another factor is that egg salad often contains mayo, and this should also be checked to see if it’s made with raw egg.
Devilled Eggs – these should be OK in pregnancy as the eggs are usually hard-boiled before they’re hollowed out and filled. If you didn’t make them, check that the eggs were hard-boiled rather than just cooked to medium, and also check that the mayo (if used) is pasteurized, and they should be safe in pregnancy.
Scotch Eggs or Eggs contained in pies – where the egg is only cooked to a ‘soft’ or ‘runny’ yolk rather than hard-boiled. This is common at higher-end delis and restaurants, particularly in the UK.
Can I eat runny yolk while pregnant?
Can you eat fried eggs when you’re pregnant? Fried eggs with a runny yolk (‘sunny-side up’) are safe to eat during pregnancy, as long as the eggs you use carry the British Lion mark. Eggs which do not carry the British Lion mark need to be fried on both sides until both the yolk and the whites are cooked through.
Can you eat fried eggs with runny yolk when pregnant?
In pregnancy, women should avoid undercooked eggs including both the yolk and the white. Salmonella can be present in either, so it doesn’t make any difference if, say, the white was cooked through and the yolk is runny (like on a sunny side up fried egg).