Is Parmesan Cheese Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

To ensure safety and good health, it is important for everyone, including pregnant women, to follow a nutritious diet. In other words, consuming highly nutritious foods is crucial during pregnancy, as they provide essential nutrients required for the growth of the unborn baby. When it comes to cheese, it is one of the options that can be included in a pregnancy diet. However, since there are various types of cheese, it is necessary to check their safety for pregnancy. In this article on, we will specifically discuss the safety of Parmesan cheese during pregnancy, as it is a common concern among expectant mothers.

Before we dive into the details about Parmesan cheese, the team at would like to express their appreciation for taking the time to read this post. Now, let’s begin.

Is all Parmesan cheese pasteurized?

Parmesan cheese is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk, often used for grating or shaving over dishes like salads or pasta. The question arises: Is all Parmesan cheese raw and unpasteurized? Or is Parmesan cheese pasteurized? Let’s find the answer to these questions.

– There are two types of Parmesan cheese: Parmigiano Reggiano and Generic Parmesan.

– Parmigiano Reggiano is a classic Italian cheese made from unpasteurized milk. This type of Parmesan cheese is classified as a hard cheese and is aged for at least 12 months. Generic Parmesan cheese, on the other hand, is more common in the US and other countries outside Europe. It can be made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.

– In conclusion, not all Parmesan cheese is pasteurized. Some varieties are pasteurized, while others are not. So, is Parmesan cheese healthy during pregnancy? The next section will provide an answer to this question based on scientific evidence.

Another cheese often used in pasta dishes as a substitute for Parmesan is Ricotta cheese. has published an article specifically discussing its consumption during pregnancy. If you’re interested, you can read more about it on “Ricotta and Pregnancy.

Is Parmesan Cheese Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?
Is Parmesan Cheese Safe to Eat During Pregnancy?

Is Parmesan cheese safe for pregnancy?

As mentioned earlier, Parmesan cheese can be made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk. Due to the weakened immune system of pregnant women, it is generally advised to avoid consuming unpasteurized dairy products due to the risk of listeria. However, when it comes to unpasteurized Parmesan cheese, it is considered safe to eat during pregnancy due to its hard texture and low moisture content. Several studies have been conducted to assess the survival of listeria in unpasteurized Parmesan cheese, and the results show that it does not support the growth of harmful bacteria due to its hardness and low moisture.

Pregnant women can enjoy moderate amounts of Parmesan cheese and incorporate it into various dishes. It can be added to soups, sauces, salads, pasta, or used in hot dishes. Since Parmesan is a hard cheese, it can be consumed both cooked and uncooked during pregnancy.

There is a wide variety of cheeses available, so pregnant women can explore other options besides Parmesan cheese. One such option is cottage cheese, which has a mild flavor. To learn more about cottage cheese and its suitability during pregnancy, you can refer to the article on “Cottage Cheese and Pregnancy.

Benefits of Parmesan Cheese During Pregnancy

There are several health benefits of consuming Parmesan cheese during pregnancy:

– Protein Source: Parmesan cheese is a rich source of protein, which helps prevent protein deficiency in pregnant women. It provides high-quality, easily digestible proteins that are essential for fetal development. This is particularly beneficial for vegetarian pregnant women who do not consume meat. If you are a vegetarian or interested in a vegan diet, you can check out our article on the benefits of a vegan pregnancy.

– Bone Health: Parmesan cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, making it beneficial for preventing osteoporosis and supporting good bone health during pregnancy. The calcium in Parmesan cheese is highly bioavailable and easily absorbed by the body.

– Lactose-Free Option: Parmesan cheese is naturally lactose-free, making it an excellent choice for pregnant women with lactose intolerance. Studies have shown that the lactose content in Parmesan cheese is very low, making it safe to consume for those who cannot digest lactose.

– Blood Pressure: Moderate consumption of Parmesan cheese can help blood vessels contract and maintain healthy blood pressure levels during pregnancy.

It is recommended that you consult your doctor before adding Parmesan cheese to your pregnancy diet to determine the appropriate amount for you. Overconsumption of Parmesan cheese during pregnancy can be unhealthy, so it’s important to discuss your intake with your doctor.

How to Determine if Cheese is Pasteurized

Pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk due to the high risk of bacterial contamination. However, certain cheeses, like string cheese, made with pasteurized milk are safe for consumption during pregnancy. On the other hand, cheeses such as blue cheese can be made from both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk.

To determine if a cheese is pasteurized, you can follow these guidelines:

– Check the Label: Most pasteurized cheeses are labeled as “pasteurized.”

– Read the Ingredient List: Look for the presence of pasteurized milk and cream in the ingredient list. If the cheese is made with pasteurized milk and cream, it is considered pasteurized and safe for pregnancy.

– By checking the label and ingredient list when purchasing cheese, you can ensure whether it is safe for pregnancy.

– Now, let’s move on to answer the question of whether aged Parmesan cheese is safe during pregnancy in the next section.

Safety of Aged Parmesan Cheese During Pregnancy

Cheeses with high moisture content can provide a favorable environment for the growth of harmful bacteria such as listeria. However, aged cheeses like Parmesan have low moisture content, making them less conducive to bacterial growth.

Parmigiano Reggiano, aged for 12-36 months, and generic Parmesan, aged for at least 10 months, are considered safe for pregnant women and their unborn babies. As cheese ages, it becomes drier, which further reduces the risk of bacterial growth. Older Parmesan cheese tends to be more expensive and has a more intense flavor. When consumed in moderation, aged Parmesan cheese can be enjoyed during pregnancy without any issues.

Let’s now address another common question about Parmesan cheese.

Safety of Grated Parmesan Cheese During Pregnancy

Many pregnant women may crave grated Parmesan cheese on their salads or pasta dishes, but is it safe to consume? Pure grated Parmesan cheese is considered safe during pregnancy, but there are a few points to consider:

– Check the Ingredient List: Some grated Parmesan cheese available in stores may not be pure Parmesan and could be a blend or imitation. To ensure you are purchasing pure Parmesan cheese, check the ingredient list.

– Listeria Risk: Using a whole piece or block of Parmesan cheese and grating it yourself is recommended over pre-made grated Parmesan cheese. A piece of cheese or a whole block has a smaller surface area, reducing the risk of cross-contamination and the presence of listeria.

By following these guidelines and considering the above points, you can safely enjoy grated Parmesan cheese during pregnancy without any risk to yourself or your unborn baby.

If you have any other questions about Parmesan cheese, feel free to continue reading the following sections.

Can You Eat Parmigiano Reggiano During Pregnancy?

Yes, Parmigiano Reggiano, which is a classic type of Parmesan cheese, is considered safe to consume during pregnancy. Despite being made with unpasteurized milk, Parmigiano Reggiano is safe for pregnant women due to its hard texture and low moisture content.

Parmigiano Reggiano is produced in specific regions of Italy and has a protected designation of origin (PDO). This hard cheese is aged for a minimum of 12 months, but it can be aged up to 36 months.

Since Parmigiano Reggiano has low moisture content, harmful bacteria like listeria cannot survive in it. Pathogens require a high-moisture environment to grow, and Parmigiano Reggiano provides unfavorable conditions for their survival. Therefore, it is safe to enjoy Parmigiano Reggiano during pregnancy and savor its unique taste.

Now, let’s explore the safety of different Parmesan cheese brands during pregnancy in the following section.

Pregnancy-Safe Parmesan Cheese Brands

While all Parmesan cheese is generally safe for pregnant women, knowing popular brands can provide reassurance about the safety of your favorite options. Here is a list of well-known pregnancy-safe Parmesan cheese brands that you can include in your diet:

– Kraft

– Belgioioso

– iGourmet

– Organic Valley

– SarVecchio

– Saputo

– Olio & Olive

– Sartori

– Any Parmesan cheese labeled “Parmigiano Reggiano”

– Store-bought or supermarket own brands (e.g., Asda, Walmart, 365, Joe’s, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose, ASDA)

It’s important to note that consuming expired Parmesan cheese, even from safe brands, can lead to an upset stomach and food poisoning. Therefore, it is best to avoid expired Parmesan cheese during pregnancy.

Can You Eat Pecorino Cheese During Pregnancy?

Yes, pecorino cheese is safe to consume during pregnancy in moderate quantities. Pecorino is an aged, hard cheese similar to Parmesan but with a few differences. Here are some key distinctions between Parmesan and pecorino:

– Parmesan cheese is made from cow’s milk, while pecorino is made from sheep’s milk.

– Parmesan is aged for 12-36 months, whereas pecorino is typically aged for a few months to a year.

– Parmesan has a drier and harder texture, whereas pecorino is softer and creamier.

– Parmesan cheese has a nutty, sweeter flavor, while pecorino has a grassier and brighter taste.

Both Parmesan and pecorino cheese can be enjoyed during pregnancy. However, it’s always advisable to consult with your healthcare professional before adding these cheeses to your diet. Following your doctor’s guidance is essential for maintaining a risk-free pregnancy.

What Cheeses Are Safe During Pregnancy?

As there is a wide variety of cheeses worldwide, the team wants to provide some safe options for pregnant women, aside from Parmesan cheese. While it is generally recommended to avoid dairy products made with unpasteurized milk, hard aged cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, such as Parmesan cheese, are exceptions.

To summarize, consuming pasteurized cheese and certain unpasteurized hard cheeses during pregnancy is safe, as they do not harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Opting for individually packaged shredded cheese or blocks of cheese can help lower the risk of cross-contamination compared to having your cheese cut from a wheel.

Here are some safe varieties of cheese that you can enjoy during pregnancy:

– Mozzarella

– Pepper jack

– Colby

– Provolone

– Cream cheese

– Cheddar

– Muenster

– Parmesan

– Cottage cheese

– Goat’s cheese

– Ricotta

– Gouda

– Monterey jack

– Romano recommends consulting with your doctor to determine the appropriate quantity of these cheeses to include in your diet. Overconsumption of any of the mentioned cheeses can have negative effects on your overall health.

Let’s continue and conclude this article with information about the foods you can prepare using Parmesan cheese and their safety during pregnancy in the following section.

Dishes Made with Parmesan and Their Pregnancy Safety

Parmesan cheese is rarely consumed on its own; it is commonly used in various dishes. Here are some examples of dishes that frequently include Parmesan and their safety during pregnancy:

– Parmesan cheese crisps or crackers: These are safe to eat during pregnancy.

– Eggplant Parmesan, also known as Eggplant Parmigiana: This dish is safe to consume during pregnancy as all the usual ingredients are considered safe. When reheating or having leftovers, ensure it is heated thoroughly and piping hot before consuming.

– Chicken Parmesan or Chicken Parmigiana: Similar to eggplant Parmesan, this dish is safe to eat during pregnancy. However, it is important to ensure that the chicken is fully cooked, reaching an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). Using a thermometer is the most accurate way to measure this.

– Parmesan salad dressings, such as Parmesan peppercorn dressing: These dressings are safe to consume during pregnancy if the other ingredients used are also pregnancy-safe. It’s worth noting that some dressings may contain raw eggs, especially if homemade, which should be avoided during pregnancy. Commercially-made dressings found on shelves (not refrigerated) are typically safe.

Final Remarks

Including cheese in your pregnancy diet is beneficial due to its high protein content, calcium, and other essential nutrients required for the growth of the unborn baby. This article from Hiregnancy serves as a pregnant woman’s guide to consuming Parmesan cheese.

As discussed in the previous sections, although Parmesan cheese is typically made with unpasteurized milk, it is considered safe to consume during pregnancy. Parmesan is an aged, hard cheese with low moisture content.

The risk of listeria contamination in Parmesan cheese is very low, as it is not an optimal environment for the growth of harmful bacteria. If you are a Parmesan cheese lover, you can continue to enjoy it during pregnancy, but it is important to moderate your intake.

We hope you found this post helpful in answering your questions about consuming Parmesan cheese during pregnancy. If you have any remaining unanswered questions, please feel free to share them with us in the comments section.


Is all Parmesan cheese pasteurized?

No, not all Parmesan cheese is pasteurized. Parmesan cheese can be made with both pasteurized and unpasteurized milk, depending on the specific type or brand.

What cheeses can’t you eat while pregnant?

It is generally recommended to avoid soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk during pregnancy due to the higher risk of bacterial contamination. Examples of soft cheeses that should be avoided include Brie, Camembert, feta, blue cheese, queso blanco, queso fresco, and certain types of goat cheese. These cheeses can potentially contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which can be dangerous for pregnant women.

Is Alfredo sauce safe during pregnancy?

Yes, Alfredo sauce is generally considered safe to consume during pregnancy. It is typically made with pasteurized ingredients and does not pose a significant risk of bacterial contamination. However, it is always advisable to check the label or inquire about the specific ingredients used to ensure the sauce is made with pasteurized dairy products.

Can I eat unpasteurized cheese while pregnant if it is cooked?

It is generally recommended to avoid consuming unpasteurized cheese, even if it is cooked, during pregnancy. Cooking may reduce the risk of bacterial contamination, but it does not eliminate it entirely. Unpasteurized cheese can still potentially contain harmful bacteria such as Listeria, which can cause foodborne illnesses. It is best to opt for cheeses made from pasteurized milk to ensure safety during pregnancy.


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