When you’re pregnant, you should avoid eating soft goats’ cheese, such as chèvre or others with a similar rind. These are often served in restaurants in dishes such as goats’ cheese salad.
Chèvre is mould-ripened and has a white rind, similar to brie and camembert – you should avoid all these mould-ripened soft cheeses in pregnancy. This is because soft cheese like this can contain bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis.
Listeriosis usually causes flu-like symptoms but can lead to serious problems such as miscarriage or stillbirth, or severe illness in a newborn baby.
Cooked goats’ cheese
Cooked goats’ cheese is safe to eat – for example, in goats’ cheese tart or on a pizza. Thoroughly cooking the cheese, until steaming hot throughout, will kill any harmful bacteria, making it safe to eat during pregnancy.
Hard goats’ cheese
Other types of goats’ cheese without this kind of rind, such as hard cheeses made with pasteurised goats’ milk, should be safe to eat.
Cheeses made from sheep’s milk
Some ewes’ (sheep’s) milk cheeses, such as feta and halloumi, are safe to eat in pregnancy because of the way they’re made. Feta has a high salt content and halloumi is a semi-hard brined cheese, which means bacteria are less likely to survive in them.
Don’t eat soft and mould-ripened sheep cheeses unless they’re cooked until steaming hot throughout.