Important: This is intended as general information only. It may not apply to your specific situation.  It is not a substitute for medical advice.  If you have a question or concern, please raise it with me at your next appointment or contact me sooner if it's urgent.


Listeria Monocytogenes is a bacteria present in the environment (in soil and vegetation) which can infect humans if they eat contaminated food.  Usually, it is a very mild illness but it can be serious in pregnant women or people with preexisting health problems.

In pregnancy, Listeria can cause miscarriages, preterm labour and babies that are born unwell.  You can reduce your risk of listeria by avoiding ‘high risk’ foods.

This is a rare condition, so don’t panic if you’ve already eaten something you shouldn’t have.  It’s only been in recent years that we have been advising pregnant women to avoid certain food and, prior to this, most pregnancies were uneventful and most babies healthy.  However, since you can – with a few minor dietary adjustments – reduce your (already small) risk, you might as well.

Foods to avoid:

  • Cold cooked meats
  • Cold cooked seafoods
  • Uncooked meat and seafood
  • Cold preprepared meat products - such as pâtés and terrines
  • Deli meats
  • Preprepared salads - such as salad bars and smorgasbords
  • Soft cheeses
  • Soft serve icecream

Listeria is killed by being heated so it’s fine to eat any of the above foods if they’re cooked and hot – for example on a pizza or in a pasta dish or pie.

You can eat:

  • Freshly prepared salads
  • Cooked seafood (hot)
  • Canned or bottled food
  • Hard cheeses
  • Yoghurt
  • Regular (non soft serve) icecream
  • Anything hot

Leftovers should be stored in a sealed container and reheated until they are piping hot throughout.

Salads and vegetables should be washed thoroughly and eaten fresh.