A Safe Thanksgiving Feast

Dayton Children’s Soon-to-Be Mommy Blogger, Jessica Saunders

We’re quickly approaching one of my favorite holidays – Thanksgiving!

I’ve been looking forward to the sinful combination of turkey, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce and my special gourmet macaroni and cheese for months. 

However, this year there are a few special considerations that I need to take into account as I enjoy our family’s magnificent feast!

While most of these tips apply to everyone, it’s especially important for someone carrying a child to guard against foodborne illness.  Here are some tips that I’ve gathered:

  • Avoid germs. Be vigilant against germs and bacteria in the kitchen. Wash your hands regularly and properly clean any surface that comes in contact with raw meat or eggs before reuse. Use separate cutting boards for poultry and produce, and keep uncooked meat or poultry chilled in the refrigerator, separate from other food items.
  • Be careful with leftovers. Don’t leave leftovers out for more than two hours and store them in shallow containers so they can cool quickly. Set the refrigerator between 35 and 40 degrees F and your freezer at or below zero to keep cold foods from going bad.
  • Properly cook turkey and stuffing. Cook your turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 180 degrees F according to your meat thermometer. If you’re preparing stuffing, the best option is to cook it outside the turkey in a separate baking dish to 165 degrees F. The inside of a turkey’s cavity doesn’t get hot enough to kill off potentially harmful bacteria.

Holiday foods for  mommies-to-be to avoid:

  • Unpasteurized juice and cider: Unpasteurized juices, including cider, are unsafe because they can contain bacteria like E. coli. Almost all juice sold is pasteurized and unpasteurized juice sold in containers is required to carry a warning label. Read labels carefully!
  • Smoked meats and meat spreads: If you eat meat spreads like pâté, or smoked fish such as smoked salmon or trout, make sure they’re canned, not from the refrigerated section of the grocery store. Refrigerated meat spreads and smoked meats, fish and shellfish can contain listeria, so it’s only safe to eat them if they’re heated properly or used as part of a dish that has been cooked.
  • Unpasteurized soft cheeses: Fruit and cheese platters are a party favorite, and a relatively healthy way to fill up, but stay away from soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk. Unpasteurized or “raw milk” cheeses  including feta, Brie, Camembert, and blue-veined cheeses may contain listeria, which is killed during the pasteurization process.
  • Sushi: Avoid sushi trays with raw fish, because it may contain parasites and bacteria. Although raw fish poses little direct risk to a developing baby, if you get ill from sushi you’ll likely suffer from vomiting and dehydration, which can affect an unborn baby.
  • Carving stations: If a party you attend features a carving station with roast beef or turkey, make sure the meat is cooked well-done and is still steaming hot. Unless you’re certain they’re well cooked, avoid sauces like bearnaise, hollandaise, and aioli, which can contain uncooked eggs
  • Eggnog: Homemade eggnog is generally off-limits, because it’s usually made with raw, unpasteurized eggs — and alcohol.  A holiday option might be “soy nog,” which doesn’t contain eggs or any other dairy products.
  • Raw egg-containing desserts: Avoid desserts that may contain raw or undercooked eggs including some custards and mousse, and homemade ice cream.
  • Fruitcake and other alcoholic food items: Fruitcake and other desserts that use alcohol as an ingredient are usually okay, because most of the alcohol burns off during cooking. If the fruitcake or other cake has been soaked in rum or other liquor after being baked, however, little of the alcohol will have evaporated so you should probably steer clear.

I guess my favorite rum cake might be off limits this year – but a healthy and happy baby is definitely worth it!

And if you are in the market for some new recipes to try out that are particularly good for pregnant and breastfeeding women here are some ideas. The “Baked” Candied Sweet Potatoes and Fortified Mashed Potatoes might be new holiday favorites!

May you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


  1. Reply
    Betsy November 23, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! :)

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