Many pregnant women are concerned about becoming ill due to toxoplasmosis. Since it’s a type of bacteria found in the soil – it’s understandable that you might find yourself Googling whether truffles are safe during pregnancy.
Truffles are generally safe during pregnancy, as long as they have been properly cleaned first due to the risk of toxoplasmosis from the soil they’re usually found in.
I’ll walk you through how to ensure your truffles are safe to eat and the ways you can enjoy them while expecting.
Are Truffles Safe for Pregnant Women?
The advice when it comes to eating truffles during pregnancy is mixed. Truffles themselves are safe, but similar to mushrooms, they can be contaminated with harmful bacteria.
Raw truffles should be approached with caution. This is because truffles come from the ground which is where toxoplasmosis bacterium can be found. Toxoplasma gondii infects an estimated 1.1 million people in the U.S. per year (source: ASTMH).
Toxoplasmosis can make both mother and baby extremely ill during pregnancy. However, some mothers can experience no symptoms and pass the illness onto the fetus. Around 50% of these infections per year in the US have been linked to food (source: FDA).
Ideally, truffles (and all mushrooms) should be cooked – but of course, this isn’t a common way of serving them, and as they’re a VERY expensive ingredient, you don’t want to ruin them either! The other best alternative is to make sure that they’re thoroughly cleaned if you’re going to eat them raw.
When it comes to washing truffles, do not soak them. The best way to wash truffles is underneath clean running water for at least 30 seconds. While some chefs prefer to brush soil and dirt off of truffles with a small brush or even a toothbrush, this is not advised during pregnancy.
Due to the shape of truffles, it’s very easy for dirt to be trapped in a crevice which is why brushing is not the safest option during pregnancy.
You should use both water, and a brush. So long as the truffles aren’t submerged, they shouldn’t absorb much water and there’s less risk of you ruining their delicate texture and flavor.
Also make sure to wash your hands after touching an uncleared truffle. If there are any damaged or soiled parts of the truffle, cut it away. Learn more in our how to wash vegetables guide.
There are several different types of truffle. White truffles, black truffles, burgundy truffles (also known as summer truffles), and garlic truffles to name a few of the edible ones. All of these truffles are generally safe – as long as they have been cleaned properly.
Is Cooked Truffle OK When Pregnant?
Cooked truffles are safe during pregnancy.
Cooking truffles kills surface bacteria and also kills toxoplasma gondii if it’s present (source: CDC). While chefs recommend cooking truffles as little as possible to avoid affecting the flavor, things are a little different when you’re pregnant.
Cooking food to 165F or 75c should kill any bacteria. The general rule of thumb is to serve food “steaming hot” while you’re expecting, which includes truffles.
However, you might be surprised to learn that a lot of “truffle” dishes don’t actually contain any truffle at all, so you can still have these when you’re pregnant!
Guide to Truffle Dishes During Pregnancy
Because many “truffle” dishes don’t actually contain real truffles, they’re safer than you think. Here is what you should know about the most popular truffle dishes:
Most truffle oil does not actually contain truffles. Most are made from a flavoring called synthetic 2,4-dithiapentane and either olive oil or sunflower oil. This is safe when you’re pregnant, and a good option to flavour your dishes with.
Authentic truffle oil is olive oil infused with raw truffles. However, most authentic truffle oils will have been pasteurized.
This is because of the short shelf life of real truffles which can be prone to botulism. Flavored oil like real truffle oil should also be refrigerated and consumed before the expiry date.
Synthetic truffle oil often has a real black truffle in the bottom of the container for show, which has been pasteurized first for food safety (source: Wilshire truffles).
Truffle fries are thin-cut fries topped with truffle oil, herbs, spices, and sometimes cheese. Double-check if this has been made with real truffle oil or synthetic truffle oil.
If the oil has been pasteurized, stored correctly, and is within their expiry date it should be safe. Be wary of toppings such as meat and cheese. All cheese should be pasteurized, and meat cooked all the way through.
Truffle shavings may be unsafe as they’re often raw. If they have been thoroughly cleaned beforehand, then they are safe regardless of whether they are raw or cooked. The safest bet is to opt for cooked truffle shavings in your meals, to ensure all bacteria have been killed. If you’re unsure if the truffle has been cleared properly, then it might be better to skip raw truffle shavings.
most store-bought truffle sauces will have been pasteurized first. This includes hot truffle sauces and cream-based truffle sauces. Always check that the dairy products used as pasteurized – most commercially made versions are.
At home or in a restaurant, truffle sauce made from scratch will usually have been cooked enough to kill any pathogens. If in doubt when eating out, be sure to ask how the sauce is prepared.
Truffle mayo or butter
Commercial mayonnaise and butter will have been pasteurized in the USA and in the UK. Truffle butter is made from white or black truffles. While the butter may be pasteurized, it’s not always clear if the truffles have been too.
Some truffle butters will be made from synthetic truffles. If a truffle butter is added to a sauce of a meal during the cooking process, this should be safe.
The same applies to truffle mayonnaise. While the eggs will have been pasteurized, it’s not always clear if the truffles have been. If in doubt, check the label or ask how it’s been made.
What about Chocolate Truffles During Pregnancy?
Chocolate truffles are named after truffles because they look similar – but they do not contain real truffles. Chocolate is safe during pregnancy, though you should keep track of how much you’re eating. It is recommended that chocolate consumption is to be cut back in the third trimester. Remember that it contains caffeine!
The bigger concern with chocolate truffles is alcohol. Not all chocolate truffles will have alcohol, but some do. Foods cooked with alcohol have lower alcohol percentages because of the cooking process, but the same cannot be said for desserts and sweet treats like chocolate truffles.
Read the ingredients first, in case it is just made with an alcohol syrup rather than real alcohol! If you do eat chocolate truffles with alcohol (or are unsure if it’s a syrup) only have one or two at the most to be on the safe side.
I hope this article was helpful when you’re next eating truffles or truffle flavored products. As a luxury ingredient, you shouldn’t miss out just because you’re pregnant, so cook them or wash them thoroughly to keep you and baby safe.