It’s summer time yet again! This means you’ll be attending a picnic or a few cookouts. If you’re pregnant you may be wondering if you should take any precautions at these events. The answer is yes, but you’ll still be able to enjoy yourself. Certain picnic food can be concerning once it sat out for a while. You’ll mainly want to avoid potato salads, egg salads, deli meats, and soft cheeses. Bacteria contamination is the biggest threat with these foods. Avoid sandwiches and grilled meats prepared by someone else. If you’re not sure they properly prepared it then it’s best to leave it alone.

The best thing to do is prepare a lunch or dinner to take with you. You can check whether your food is cooked properly or not. Then make sure it’s in a tightly closed container to help prevent contamination. This can lessen the worry of getting food poisoning. When someone else prepares grilled meats or sandwiches, you can’t be too sure if it was cooked to a safe internal temperature. As for other foods like potato salads you may not know how long they’ve been sitting out. Down below you’ll find safe alternatives, the low down on the link to temperatures & bacteria contamination, and why deli platters can be concerning.

Be cautious with the deli platter.

What’s mainly associated with deli platters is a particular strand of bacteria called Listeria. Listeria is found on deli meats and soft cheeses. Listeria in pregnant women can cause flu-like symptoms, headaches, back pain, nausea, and vomiting. You may experience disorientation, convulsions, or stiffness of the neck if the bacteria spreads to the nervous system. This type of bacteria can lead to premature birth, infection of the infant, or fetal death.

Listeria is easily treated with antibiotics. In most cases, antibiotics will prevent the infection of the baby. The same antibiotics are used for newborns that have been infected as well. Listeria can also be prevented. Reheating deli meats can kill the bacteria. If you really want a deli sandwich, make sure to get it served hot. This includes hot dogs as well! Avoid refrigerated pates & meat spreads. Make sure to cook all meats to their recommended temperatures. Choosing hard cheeses over soft ones can also help you avoid contact with Listeria.

Why does temperature matter?

Believe it or not, temperature can dictate bacteria contamination. The temperature of how food is stored and the temperature of the food once it’s prepared is crucial. This is important for pregnant women, so they can appropriately prepare their meals. Temperature is also a key factor when deciding what to eat at a picnic or cookout. If the weather is 90 degrees or hotter outside, you’ll want to pass on any foods that have been sitting out for an hour or more. If the weather is moderate outside, feel free to enjoy any properly prepared foods within the first 2 hours of them being placed on the table.

As mentioned earlier, the storage of food and the temperature of cooked food is important. Keep cold foods chilled below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or heated above 140 degrees. This prevents bacteria from developing on your food. Any temperature between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is a breeding ground for bacteria. So, don’t be afraid to microwave your food once you’ve received it. That’s just taking an extra step of safety.

Safe Alternatives

If you rather dodge the deli meats, cheeses, and potato salad altogether there are some alternatives. You can dig into cookies, breads, rolls, and crackers. As long as there was no cross-contamination, these foods have a low risk of food poisoning & bacteria contamination. One alternative you may have never considered is guacamole! Guacamole is safe to eat and nutritious. The avocados in guacamole provide a great source of fiber, vitamin K, folic acid, vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin B6. Avocados can also help to combat morning sickness, aid in the baby’s brain development and tissue growth.


Now don’t stress yourself out about getting food poisoning. Food poisoning is very rare, but you do want to be aware. Pregnant women are more susceptible to food poisoning than a non-pregnant adult. However, these cases are still rare. As long as you take the proper precautions you’ll be fine to attend any picnic or cookout. Remember to reheat hot foods and if anything is supposed to be cold, keep it cold. If you want a deli sandwich or sub, make sure to get it toasted or served as a melt. Other than that, enjoy yourself and your summer!