Goat cheese is one of those pregnancy grey areas. Some types of goat’s cheese are safe to eat during pregnancy, and others are not.
Pregnant women should avoid all soft mold-ripened goat cheese, even if the cheese is pasteurized. Soft goat cheese without a mold-ripened rind is safe if pasteurized. All types of hard, aged goat cheeses are safe in pregnancy.
Goat cheese safety can be confusing, so we’ll take a look at which types of goat’s cheese you can enjoy and which foods to look out for.
Types of Goat Cheese and Pregnancy Safety
There are many types of goat cheese: some are safe to eat when pregnant, and others are to be avoided.
All the guidelines below are the same in almost every country, including the USA, The UK and Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Goat Cheeses That Are Unsafe for Pregnant Women
The following types of goat cheese aren’t safe in pregnancy:
Mold-Ripened Goat Cheese (with a white rind)
This goat’s cheese is commonly called chèvre or goat brie (it looks like a traditional brie or camembert) and is best avoided when pregnant unless it’s cooked.
Unfortunately, this is the type that most often appears in goat cheese dishes, and is only safe if heated thoroughly, which we’ll cover later on.
Any type of goat cheese with a mold-ripened soft rind is not safe to eat during pregnancy, because soft cheeses like this have a higher incidence of listeria contamination (source: HHS).
Listeriosis can cause serious problems in pregnancy such as miscarriage or stillbirth (Source: NHS).
Soft or Spreadable Goat Cheese
Spreadable goat’s cheese is usually made with chèvre or another soft, fresh goat’s cheese and is therefore not safe to eat if this is the case.
Safety can depend on whether the spread was made with a mold-ripened fresh cheese.
If the spreadable or soft goat cheese is commercially-made, pasteurized and isn’t mold-ripened, then it’s safe to eat.
Ashed Goat Cheese
This is goat’s cheese with a black or grey ash rind which is soft. The ash may hide the fact that the cheese is mold-ripened because the ash covers the rind.
One example of this cheese is Humboldt Fog, named for the Humboldt region in California where it is made. Others include Rosary Ash or Kidderton.
As with white rind cheeses, this type of goat’s cheese is not safe to eat while pregnant unless it’s cooked or otherwise heated thoroughly. We cover this in the next section.
Goat Cheeses That Are Safe For Pregnant Women
Cooked Goat’s Cheese
Cooked goat’s cheese, even cooked chèvre, is safe to eat provided that the cheese has been cooked until the food is steaming.
Ensuring the cheese has reached a temperature of at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit (71C) will kill any harmful bacteria and the cheese will be safe to eat (Source: HealthLink).
You can also make mold-ripened soft goat cheese safe by cooking it.
Aged or Mature Goat Cheese
Provided it has been made with pasteurized goat’s milk, aged goat’s cheese is safe to eat (Source: NHS).
If the cheese is very hard and dense (hard enough to shred or grate), it can also be eaten if made with unpasteurized milk. This is because the very low water content of such cheese makes it difficult for listeria to survive (source: Centre For Food Safety).
Spanish Goat Cheese
There are several Spanish goat’s cheeses which are hard cheeses, and are safe to eat provided they are hard (rather than semi-hard) or made with pasteurized milk.
Is Goat’s Cheese Always Pasteurized?
In the United States, most cheese including goat’s cheese is pasteurized since the FDA prohibited the sale of raw milk.
Milk that has not been heat-treated through pasteurization can contain salmonella, campylobacter, e.coli, or listeria (Source: CDC).
Some farmer’s markets may sell goat’s cheeses that have not been pasteurized, however, so if you buy cheese outside of a supermarket it is worth checking the label.
Most cheeses are also pasteurized in the UK and Australia for the same reasons.
You are most likely to find unpasteurized cheeses in European countries, particularly in France. Any soft cheeses in France are more likely to be unpasteurized, so check with the seller before buying.
Generally speaking, European milk products do not meet with FDA requirements for milk safety (Source: CANR).
It’s worth remembering that not all pasteurized goat cheeses are safe – it depends on how they are ripened, too.
Is Pasteurized Goat Cheese OK When Pregnant?
Pasteurized goat’s cheeses are safe to eat during pregnancy, except for surface-ripened / mold-ripened cheeses such as goat’s Brie and goat’s Camembert as there is a risk of contracting listeriosis (Source: AJAS).
These goat cheeses are fairly easy to spot as they have a soft, white rind.
As we’ve already mentioned, hard goat’s cheeses are safe to consume as they are far less likely to contain listeria bacteria (Source: CFP).
Goat Cheese Brands and Whether They’re Safe
Here’s a review of some popular goat cheese brands and whether they’re safe to consume.
The rule of thumb is that if the cheese has a rind like Brie or Camembert, or if it has an ash or wrinkled coating, it is not safe to eat while pregnant unless heated or cooked.
Boursin – Boursin cheeses are made from pasteurized milk and are treated at a high temperature, and can be consumed safely when pregnant.
Capricorn – Some Capricorn cheeses have a rind like Brie and a soft inside, and are not recommended while pregnant. Others are hard, crumbly cheeses that are safe to eat.
Chavrie – The Chavrie brand of goat cheeses has a plain creamy goat cheese which is pasteurized and is similar to Boursin. This cheese is safe to eat.
Chevrelait – Chevrelait has a ‘whole form’, hard goat cheese which is also safe to eat.
Goat Cheese Dishes and Pregnancy Safety
There are many goat cheese dishes, so to put your mind at rest when eating them, here’s a list of some popular dishes and whether they’re safe to eat when you’re pregnant:
Baked goat cheese- Baked goat cheese is safe to eat, as it has been heated sufficiently in the oven to be steamed through. Check that it’s been heated until hot, rather than just warmed through.
Deep-fried goat cheese- Deep-fried goat cheese is also safe to eat, given the high temperatures of the oil used for frying.
Crumbled goat cheese (and ready crumbled) – Crumbled goat cheese is typically made from hard goat cheese, or goat cheese with no soft rind, and is, therefore, safe to eat provided it has been pasteurized.
Feta made with goat cheese – Feta cheese made with goat’s milk is safe to eat as long as it has been pasteurized. We have a separate article dedicated to feta in pregnancy here.
Again, the cheese should be hot, not just warm. For more on pizzas, you can check our complete guide here.
Grilled goat cheese – Grilled goat cheese is safe to eat as long as it has been cooked till steaming hot.
Goat cheese in tarts or quiches – Goat cheese in tarts, quiches or other baked goods is safe to eat as long as the tart or quiche has been baked in the oven.
Goat cheese in pasta or in ravioli – This type of goat cheese is usually soft, pasteurized goat cheese, and is safe to eat. Check what type of cheese is used, however, before purchasing it (or ordering it if you’re at a restaurant).
Goat cheese on a salad -If the goat cheese on a salad is cold, then it is not safe to eat unless it is the hard, aged kind.
Most goat cheese on salads is the soft kind with a mold rind and has not been heated enough – making it unsafe to consume while you’re pregnant.
The exception is warm goat cheese salad – check with the restaurant to see if the cheese has been heated till steaming, or until the cheese reaches 160F/71C. If it is only slightly warm (as is the case in most instances), it is not safe to eat.
Overall, most types of goat’s cheese, as long as they are pasteurized, are safe to eat.
The exception is any type of goat’s cheese that is surface-ripened and has a soft or ash rind, such as Brie or Camembert style goat cheeses.
If you want to be absolutely certain a goat cheese is safe, you can heat it until it’s hot, as all types of goat cheese are safe in pregnancy if they’re cooked.
Cheese Fan? You might also like these pregnancy and cheese guides:
- The ultimate list of cheeses you can and can’t eat during pregnancy
- A guide to eating mozzarella or fresh burrata when you’re pregnant
- What to look for when choosing feta or halloumi