Many pregnant women are aware that they have to avoid unpasteurized foods, particularly dairy. Sour Cream (and its French counterpart, Crème fraîche) are no exception. So are they OK pregnancy?
Are Sour Cream & Crème Fraîche Safe To Eat When Pregnant? Sour cream and crème fraîche are safe in pregnancy if they’re made from pasteurized ingredients. Most commercial brands of sour cream and creme fraiche are safe. Homemade types may not be.
Whether or not sour cream is made from pasteurized ingredients depends on where it’s from (or which country you’re eating it in). I’ve broken down each country’s food guidelines in this article.
First of all, though, there’s one type of sour cream that may not be safe in pregnancy:
Which Sour Cream (and Creme Fraiche) Should Be Avoided in Pregnancy?
Homemade sour cream and creme fraiche may not be safe in pregnancy, even if they’re made from pasteurized cream. This is because it’s a fermented product (the original ‘sour cream’ was just that – cream left to go sour!)
Homemade fermented products carry more risk than professionally produced commercial ones. Temperature control, sanitation and bacterial levels are much harder to measure and control at home, so the chances are greater that undesirable, harmful bacteria will grow alongside the good (source: ISA).
For this reason, if you normally make your own sour cream or creme fraiche, or eat it from somewhere that does, it’s better to avoid it for the duration of your pregnancy.
Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche From Ranches or Farms
Very occasionally you might find ‘homemade’ or ‘farm-made’ versions of sour cream or creme fraiche for sale directly from a ranch or farm. They’re sometimes called ‘barn door’ sales.
This is more common in Mexico (where sour cream is simply called crema), and other countries where farms are allowed to sell their products ‘on the doorstep’, particularly in rural areas.
Pregnant women should avoid these types of farm and ranch produced dairy (including cheese).
This is not because there is anything ‘wrong’ with the product or that it’s necessarily unsanitary in any way, it’s that the risks are higher for cross-contamination, as with other homemade products. Some are also made with raw, unpasteurized milk.
If you’re going to eat sour cream or creme fraiche, choose a commercially manufactured brand rather than a homemade one when you’re pregnant, as it’s likely to be pasteurized (more on this below).
Is Sour Cream Pasteurized? Brands by Country
Food regulations can differ from place to place, so here’s a breakdown on finding pasteurized sour cream in your country:
Pasteurized Sour Cream Brands in the USA
According to the guidelines drawn up by the Food & Drug Administration, commercially manufactured sour cream (also labeled “cultured soured cream”) is always made from pasteurized cream in the US (source: FDA). This includes creme fraiche, too.
This means that any brand of sour cream or creme fraiche available for sale in USA stores or supermarkets will be pasteurized. Popular brands of pasteurized sour cream in the USA include:
- Organic Valley
- Any supermarket own-brand or own-label
- Vermont Creamery
- Clover Sonoma
- Land O’Lakes
Pasteurized Sour Cream Brands in Canada
It’s a similar story in Canada, where legislation prevents businesses from selling unpasteurized milk or cream products such as sour cream (source: National Dairy Code of Canada).
The only exception may be the province of Quebec, which legalized raw milk products, such as cheese, back in 2008 (1). It’s unclear whether Quebequois producers will extend this to sour cream or more likely, creme fraiche, but it’s wise to check the label if buying French-Canadian dairy.
Pasteurized Brands of Sour Cream / Creme Fraiche in Canada include:
- Central Dairies
- Organic Meadow
- Gay Lea
Pasteurized Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche in the UK and Europe
Raw milk and cream are legal in England and Wales, but not in Scotland (source: Food Standards Agency).
It’s also still legal to buy and sell unpasteurized, raw milk and cream in many European countries, particularly those with a strong tradition of dairy food production, like France and Italy.
In the UK, commercially-produced sour cream has to be pasteurized and if it’s not, it has to clearly state this on the label. Therefore it’s better to stick to ‘branded’ sour cream and creme fraiche, usually bought in a supermarket. Popular brands that are pregnancy-safe are listed below.
Raw milk products can only be sold from farms, either online, from their premises, or at farmer’s markets. If you buy this, always ask if the milk or cream has been pasteurized, or avoid this altogether.
EU food regulations state that any product made with unpasteurized dairy should be labeled as such, so always check this when buying European products. Creme fraiche in France may sometimes be made with unpasteurized dairy, but, again, it will have to say this on the label.
Pasteurized Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche brands in the UK include:
- All own-brands from supermarkets (Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, etc.)
- Yeo Valley
- Old El Paso sauces
- Isigny Sainte-Mère crème fraîche
In European countries outside the UK, it’s best checked on a product-by-product basis, as there are so many.
Pasteurized Sour Cream and Creme Fraiche in Australia and New Zealand
Australia takes much the same stance as the USA, in that raw, unpasteurized dairy cannot be sold directly to the consumer. Some producers have tried to get around this, but you can assume that all commercial brands in Australia will be pasteurized.
In New Zealand, raw milk is still legal to buy, but only direct from licensed farms. These farms then offer direct collection or delivery. This type of raw dairy should be avoided in pregnancy.
All raw, unpasteurized products have to be labeled with warnings on them about the risks of raw dairy (source: New Zealand Government).
Subsequently, like Australia, commercially produced and manufactured sour cream and creme fraiche in NZ will be pasteurized and safe for pregnant women to eat.
Pasteurized sour cream and creme fraiche bands in NZ and Australia include:
- Barambah Organics
- Lewis Road
- Meadow Fresh
Eating Restaurant Sour Cream When You’re Pregnant
Many Mexican or Tex-Mex style restaurants offer sour cream on their menu. Commercially-produced sour cream is the most commonly used, so this is fine to eat when pregnant as it will be pasteurized.
Chains and restaurants that use pasteurized sour cream include:
- Taco Bell
- Baja Fresh
- Moe’s Southwest Grill
You should ask first, but many other restaurants are likely to use bought-in, commercially manufactured sour cream, which is pasteurized and safe.
If you’re eating at a small independent cantina or other similar restaurants, ask first in case they are making their own sour cream (see the tips on homemade sour cream, above).
Can I Eat Sour Cream Dip If I’m Pregnant?
Sour cream dips are usually safe in pregnancy and should be treated the same way as ordinary sour cream as described in this article.
Commercially-produced sour cream dips will be pasteurized and safe to eat, and homemade ones are safe if the ‘homemade’ part involves using a commercial sour cream as a base, then adding additional flavors.
Some tips on eating sour cream dip in pregnancy:
- The most popular flavors of dip are usually fine (for example, sour cream and chive). Herb-based dips are all safe in pregnancy if the sour cream is pasteurized.
- If the sour cream dip is cheese-based, check that it’s a cheese that is safe for you to have when you’re pregnant.
- Be aware that cross-contamination often happens with dips, particularly at parties or buffets. This is because people dip, eat half, and dip again, and various items get dipped in and out.
- Avoid dips that have been left uncovered at room temperature for a while. Bacteria multiplies the longer a dip is out of the fridge. Always store the dip in the fridge and use it within the specified number of days.
- Commercial dips, such as those made by pizza companies for the crusts (Dominos, etc) and ones designed for chips (e.g. Doritos) are all pregnancy-safe as they’ll be made with pasteurized ingredients.