Is Meringue Safe When Pregnant? Pavlova, Pies + More

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Meringue is made with lightly cooked egg whites, which makes it a questionable item on a pregnant women’s food list. Are meringues safe during pregnancy?

Meringues that are cooked all the way through, such as macarons, are safe to consume during pregnancy. Lightly cooked meringues, such as pavlovas and meringue pies, should be avoided due to the risk of salmonella.

Which meringues are safe, and what other options are available? Let’s find out.

Is Meringue Safe to Eat When Pregnant?

Meringues are egg whites mixed with sugar and some kind of acid to hold their shape. They are usually beaten into stiff peaks and baked lightly or all the way through (source: Wikipedia). 

bowl of meringue cookies

Merngue is included in the FDA‘s list of dairy and egg items that should not be consumed by pregnant women. However, with proper preparation and handling, some types of meringue are safe for consumption during pregnancy.

There are two types of meringue: hard and soft. Generally, the soft versions are lightly cooked. Examples include pavlovas, meringue pie, meringue fillings for donuts, and baked Alaska.

Hard meringues are thoroughly cooked, which gives them a more brittle texture. Examples include macarons, meringue cakes (eg. Sans Rival), Brutti e Buoni, and meringue candies. 

Hard meringues are cooked thoroughly, and can therefore be eaten when pregnant.  Soft types are generally cooked lightly, if at all. This makes them more likely to be carriers of diseases such as salmonella and listeria (source: WSU).

In the UK, British Lion Eggs comprise 90% of eggs sold in stores. All hens used in the production of Lion Eggs have been vaccinated against salmonella (source: Egg Info).

According to the NHS, pregnant women can eat lightly cooked and even raw British lion eggs. This includes soft meringues.  If you are eating at a restaurant, make sure they are using British Lion Eggs for their items.

When making your own food at home, you can use Lion Eggs to make soft meringues. If they are not available where you live, then avoid undercooked egg food items and opt for safer alternatives.

Cake Pavlova with cream and berries

Can I Eat Pavlova During Pregnancy?

One popular dessert item that uses meringue as its main ingredient is Pavlova. It typically has three ingredients – whipped cream, fruits, and of course, meringue. In this article, we will focus on the meringue component.

A classic pavlova recipe requires the meringue to be cooked until pale but not brown. This is achieved by baking it at low heat for an extended period of time.

This also gives the meringue a soft and airy texture. However, since the middle of the meringue could be a little raw, it is not advisable to consume while pregnant, unless it is made with British Lion Eggs. 

Can I Eat Lemon Meringue Pie When Pregnant?

Lemon meringue pies, or any other meringue pies, should also be avoided during pregnancy since they are not cooked all the way through.

a slice of delicious homemade lemon meringue pie on a plate

Although meringue pies are baked at a higher temperature than pavlovas, they are baked for a shorter amount of time, making the inside of the meringue a little runny and raw. 

Whipped cream is a good alternative if you are craving a lemon meringue pie. You can buy ready-made pies from stores, remove the meringue topping, and bake it again for a little while to make sure that the residue on the top of the pie has been cooked. Then top it off with whipped cream.

Of course, you can also make your own pie from scratch, using safe ingredients to replace the undercooked eggs. 

From a nutrition point of view, meringue’s main component is sugar, and it is high in calories (source: Nutrition Value). If you want to enjoy it, pair it with fresh fruits such as berries to increase its nutritional value and give you a boost of antioxidants. 

Indulging in things that bring you joy, whether it’s a serving of dessert or a bowl of veggies, is fine during pregnancy, as long as you choose options that are safe for you and your baby.