Can Pregnant Women Eat Taramasalata? Is it Safe?

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Craving a salty spread to dip your vegetables or crackers in? If so, taramasalata might come to mind, but unfortunately, it might not be the right choice during pregnancy. 

Taramasalata made with pasteurized fish roe is safe. But this is hard to find, and we can’t recommend a brand because most fish roes are only cured, not pasteurized. We advise asking your doctor about what you can or can’t have, just to be safe.

So, if this is the case, can you make your own taramasalata at home? Discover the answer below.

Is Taramasalata [Fish Roe Dip] Safe When Pregnant?

Taramasalata is not safe during pregnancy because it is not pasteurized. We don’t recommend making your own taramasalata or tarama dip unless you use a thoroughly pasteurized fish roe.

Raw or unpasteurized fish eggs, caviar, or roe, are not safe for pregnant women. However, if they are pasteurized or cooked, they will be safe for consumption.

Taramasalata is made with tarama. Tarama is a dip made with cured and salted fish roe, mostly from cod or carp. Some tarama dips use other types of roe. 

Other ingredients of the taramasalata dip include vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil, and mashed potatoes or bread. 

Let’s discuss the main ingredient of this dip, which is fish roe. In Asia, fish roe or fish eggs are consumed as part of cultural applications and traditions. They come in fresh, salted, fermented, smoked, or canned varieties. 

taramasalata dip with pita bread, lemon and olives

The central rule in processing raw fish eggs is to decrease their moisture content. Curing substances are often used to preserve the eggs and add taste and nutritional value.

Fish roe is very nutritious, but it is also at high risk of microbiological, physical, or chemical hazards if mishandled. Processing procedures should be observed especially by commercial producers (source: Fish Roe: Biochemistry, Products, and Safety).

A study in Japan discovered the prevalence of Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat (RTE) foods in Japan including fish roe products such as cod roe (source: Applied and Environmental Microbiology). 

In another study, a Listeria monocytogenes-contaminated salmon roe was decontaminated by using heat treatment. Results showed bacterial resistance to heat as affected by temperature, salt, and the type of bacterial strain.

Although this study was conducted on salmon roe, observation of the optimal thermal processes in other fish eggs should still be observed (source: Food Control). 

Listeria monocytogenes poses a risk to pregnant mothers. Pregnant women are ten times more likely to contract this bacteria compared to the next healthy adult.

Listeria monocytogenes causes food poisoning and can be passed to your unborn baby. It can further cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and worse, death (source: FDA).

This bacteria is very resilient and can even survive in the refrigerator.

tortilla chips with taramasalata dip on a plate

Pasteurization uses moderate heat to kill bacteria, including listeria. With fish and fish products, the goal is to either eliminate spores of toxic bacteria and extend the shelf life or kill the pathogens themselves if there are any. 

Unfortunately, recontamination could happen at any stage. That is why rigorous processes have to be observed (source: Pasteurized Fish and Fishery Products).

Therefore, we don’t recommend making taramasalata dips at home unless you buy a thoroughly pasteurized fish roe. The other ingredients should be safe, unless you use spoiled or moldy bread. 

Is Taramasalata Pasteurized?

Based on our research, most fish roe brands, even a popular taramasalata dip brand Krinos, don’t indicate that their fish roes are pasteurized. Most only denote that their product is cured or salted.

We have yet to find taramasalata dips or fish roe brands that make pasteurized products, which means at this point, we cannot recommend any particular product.

We hope you found this article helpful!