Why can't I eat soft cheeses during pregnancy?

Soft cheeses can contain listeria bacteria that cause an infection called listeriosis. To avoid this risk, pregnant women are advised to not eat mould-ripened soft cheese such as brie, camembert, mould-ripened soft cheese made with goats' milk, and others with a similar rind.

You should also avoid soft blue-veined cheeses, including: 

  • Danish blue
  • gorgonzola
  • roquefort

Soft cheeses like this are less acidic than hard cheeses and they contain more moisture. This means they can be an ideal environment for harmful bacteria, such as listeria, to grow in.

Listeriosis

Listeriosis infection is usually caused by eating food contaminated with listeria bacteria. Pregnant women are vulnerable to getting listeriosis because hormonal changes during pregnancy weaken the immune system, the body’s natural defence against infection.

Although infection with listeria is rare, it’s important to take special precautions in pregnancy. Even a mild form of the illness in a pregnant woman can cause miscarriagestillbirth or severe illness in a newborn baby.

Cheeses you can eat

While you’re pregnant, it’s safe to eat hard cheeses, as well as other types of cheese. Hard cheeses don’t contain as much water as soft cheeses, so bacteria are less likely to grow in them.

For more information, including when to make sure a cheese is made from pasteurised milk, see Are hard cheeses safe to eat during pregnancy?

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 25/07/2013

Next review due: 24/07/2015