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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Food

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Preventing Listeriosis - Attention Pregnant Women: Some Cheeses Could Harm Your Unborn Baby!

Don't eat Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero or Queso Blanco unless you're sure it is made from pasteurized milk.

(Also available in PDF 662KB and Spanish)

Cheeses made from raw or "unpasteurized" milk can contain bacteria that might make your baby sick — even before he's born.

You can help keep your baby safe by avoiding cheeses made from unpasteurized milk. Here's what you need to know:

picture of pregnant Maribel     

  • "Queso Fresco" is a Mexican-style soft cheese that is sometimes made with unpasteurized milk. Many types of cheeses can be made "Queso Fresco" style — including Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero, and Queso Blanco.
  • Unpasteurized cheeses are often sold door-to-door, at flea markets, from the back of trucks, or brought into the U.S. from Mexico or Central America.
  • Before eating any of these soft Mexican-style cheeses, read the label to make sure it says "Made from Pasteurized Milk," or "Pasteurized." If it doesn't — do not eat the cheese.
  • If you think you may have eaten contaminated cheese while pregnant, call your doctor or clinic.

What Does
"Pasteurized" Mean?

  • Pasteurized means that a food, like milk, is heated at a processing plant to kill bacteria.
  • Unpasteurized (raw) milk has not been heated at a processing plant, and may contain dangerous bacteria that can hurt or kill your unborn baby – even if you don't feel sick!

Eating Cheeses Made From
Unpasteurized Milk
Can Cause Listeriosis

  • This dangerous disease can cause birth defects and other serious problems — even the death of your baby.

Cheese Made From
Unpasteurized Milk Can
Cause Other Diseases, Too

These have been known to include:

  • Tuberculosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Brucellosis

Help Keep Your Unborn Baby Safe.
Do not eat Queso Fresco-style cheeses made
with unpasteurized milk!