Can Pregnant Women Eat Fresh Mozzarella Cheese? Is It Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Mozzarella often tops the list of all-time favorite cheeses in many countries. It’s everywhere: on pizzas, over salads, in sandwiches… so no surprise that if you’re pregnant, you’re probably wondering about whether it’s safe or not for you to continue eating it. Let’s find out!

Can Pregnant Women Eat Mozzarella Cheese? Mozzarella Cheese is safe to eat in pregnancy if it’s been made from pasteurized milk. Mozzarella is a semi-soft cheese, so it’s unsafe when made from raw, unpasteurized milk.

The key here is pasteurization, so that’s the primary thing to look out for. This article covers everything mozzarella, including popular dishes that include it and how you can find out whether it’s pasteurized, too – including pregnancy-safe brands.

Is Mozzarella Pasteurized?

Here’s the kicker with mozzarella: mozzarella is not always pasteurized, depending on where it’s from.

There’s no stipulation that raw, unpasteurized milk can’t be used in making mozzarella. Mozzarella made in the European Union has a Traditional Specialities Guarantee (TSG) attached to its name, but this only specifies it has to be made ‘traditionally’, and doesn’t say whether pasteurized milk should be used (source: Wikipedia).

This means that when you’re pregnant, you should always check that the mozzarella has been made from pasteurized milk. The good news is that it almost always is, outside of Italy.

Mozzarella is designed to be eaten as fresh as possible – usually the day after it’s made. This can only be realistic if you’re in Italy or a neighboring country that can get it super-fresh.

If you’re eating mozzarella produced in your own country outside of Italy, or Italian imported mozzarella, it’s usually made from pasteurized milk, either because the national food regulations say so, or due to the shipping time involved.

mozzarella cheese with basil on a wooden board

Mozzarella Pasteurization In Your Country

Whether mozzarella is likely to be made from pasteurized milk or not depends on where you live (or where the cheese is from).

In the USA, the FDA requires that all producers making mozzarella in the United States use pasteurized, not raw milk (source: FDA). Therefore all commercially-produced, USA-made mozzarella cheese is usually pasteurized.

Raw milk is still allowed for sale in many states, though, so very occasionally you might find an artisan, farm-shop type cheese for sale that may use raw milk. This is very rare, however.

It’s a similar story in Australia, where raw milk cheeses AND raw milk are both banned from sale. However, some exceptions and loopholes occasionally pop up. Any commercially-made mozzarella in Australia will be made using pasteurized milk.

In the UK and Europe, raw milk is more prevalent, because it’s used to make so many traditional cheeses and recipes. The law usually requires that unpasteurized milk products should be labeled as such, so if you’re buying mozzarella in Europe, check the label first.

Brands of Mozzarella using Pasteurized Milk

For pregnant women, the easiest option is to avoid ‘artisan’ or home-made style cheeses and opt for commercially-produced and manufactured mozzarella.

This is the type made in a factory, packaged and labeled with a full list of ingredients. Popular mozzarella brands using pasteurized milk are:

  • Galbani (this one is sold all over the world)
  • Sargento
  • Kraft
  • Belgioioso
  • Di Stefano
  • Any own-brand supermarket mozzarella
  • Mandara

Can Pregnant Women Eat Buffalo / Bufala Mozzarella?

Whether a mozzarella cheese is made from cow’s milk or buffalo milk makes no difference to its pregnancy safety. Some people prefer one or the other depending on taste, or lactose content.

You can safely eat either cow’s mozzarella or buffalo mozzarella in pregnancy, so long as it’s made from pasteurized milk.

Can Pregnant Women Eat “Raw” Mozzarella Or Should It Be Cooked First?

There’s a bit of confusion around about eating ‘raw’ cold, uncooked mozzarella because it sounds like ‘raw’ is bad. Let’s clear this one up:

  • Mozzarella is not safe if it’s made from raw milk (that’s unpasteurized milk)
  • Mozzarella is safe to eat raw, as in cold, fresh, soft, straight out of the packet and not cooked – if it’s made from pasteurized milk.

A list of common uncooked (and cooked!) mozzarella dishes are given later in this article if you have a particular one in mind that you want to know about.

marinated bocconcini baby mozzarella salad with basil

Other Types of Mozzarella and Whether They’re Safe

Mozzarella has a few different shapes and types. You might have wondered if they’re also safe in pregnancy. Here are a few common ones:

  • Burrata (a mozzarella parcel stuffed with cream and mozzarella or Stracciatella) – there’s a whole article dedicated to burrata right here.
  • Bocconcini – these are ‘baby mozzarellas’ so the only difference is that they’re very small. Sometimes called mozzarella cherries. Treat them just the same as regular mozzarella when checking if bocconcini is safe for pregnant women.
  • Mozzarella sticks (sometimes called ‘string cheese’) – these are usually safe in pregnancy as they’re commercially made. Check the label, and if they’re made with pasteurized milk, mozzarella sticks are OK in pregnancy.

Mozzarella Dishes and Their Pregnancy-Safety

Here are a few common dishes featuring mozzarella that you might want to know about when you’re pregnant:

Can Pregnant Women Have Mozzarella on a pizza? Mozzarella on a pizza is safe for pregnant women to eat.

This is for two reasons – commercially-made pizza almost always uses pasteurized milk mozzarella. Additionally, heating up mozzarella would make it safe to eat in pregnancy anyway, since the heat of the pizza oven would kill any bacteria.

If you’re partial to pizza when you’re pregnant, you might find this guide to pizza toppings in pregnancy really useful.

Can I have baked mozzarella if I’m pregnant? Mozzarella that has been baked is fine for pregnant women to eat. It’s common as a cheesy topping to casseroles and melts, and is fine to eat in pregnancy.

freshly baked margherita pizza with olive oil, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese

Is Mozzarella Healthy for Pregnant Women? What Are the Benefits?

Compared to many other cheeses, mozzarella is lower in calories and sodium as it’s usually eaten fresh. Mozzarella is high in calcium and protein, which are both essential in pregnancy, and it’s also a good source of vitamin B12 and phosphorus (source: Nutrition Data).

Mozzarella also contains probiotic properties (source: PubMed) thanks to its milk content. It’s one of the ways to eat probiotics naturally, according to the American Pregnancy Association (source: APA).

That said, mozzarella is still a cheese often made from whole milk, so it does contain saturated fat (around 11g per 100g, which is 55% of a regular daily intake) (source: USDA) so it should be eaten in moderation.

It’s a great way of pepping up salads or making a “cheesy” bake without resorting to other, higher-fat options, but obviously, if it’s on a pizza it’s going to add calories and fat. The nutrition of mozzarella really depends on the dish you’re enjoying it in!

If you’re a cheese lover, you might also be interested in this ultimate list of cheeses you can – and can’t – eat in pregnancy, too.