Is Tzatziki Safe to Eat During Pregnancy? Sauce and Dip

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Tzatziki is one of those sauces that just tastes refreshingly good. Whether homemade or store-bought, in this article, we discuss its safety during pregnancy.

Commercial tzatziki is safe because most store-bought products are pasteurized. Homemade tzatziki, on the other hand, needs attention to detail to ensure it is safe for consumption. 

What are the ingredients and how do you safely prepare them when making tzatziki at home? Can I store it in the fridge? The answers to these questions and more are below…

Is Tzatziki Safe for Pregnant Women? 

Most commercial tzatziki sauces or dips (they are one and the same) are safe for pregnant women. Homemade tzatziki, however, will need extra effort to make it safe for consumption. 

Let’s take a look at each ingredient of tzatziki and how they contribute to the safety, nutritive, and palatable qualities of the sauce. 

tzatziki sauce with herbs, cucumber and garlic

The Yogurt

Greek yogurt is favored for its doubled protein and halved carbohydrate content compared to regular yogurt. It is also thicker and creamier because it is strained three times. Apart from these often preferred features, they are just as safe as regular yogurts.

Most commercially-produced yogurts are safe for pregnant women because they are pasteurized. 

Yogurts go through several processes to make them safe and easy to safely store. One important process includes pasteurization to kill pathogenic microorganisms while keeping bacterial cultures alive.

For more on yogurt during pregnancy, check out our guide here.

The Cucumbers

You should observe proper handling and washing when it comes to the cucumbers in tzatziki.

A Salmonella outbreak took place back in 2014 in which there were 275 reported cases in 29 states. According to the investigation, poultry litter was the source of contaminant (source: NIH). 

Pregnant women and their unborn babies are at higher risk of foodborne diseases (source: FDA). 

We therefore strongly advise you to thoroughly wash the cucumbers before peeling and cutting or slicing. To make cucumbers safer, you can first blanch the sliced pieces before draining them as required in tzatziki recipes. 

Or, you can use a dehydrator to further remove the moisture. As a general rule, less moisture equals less risk for bacterial growth.

In fact, you can apply either of these safety measures to any fresh produce. While it may cause a difference in the taste of tzatziki, it will make it safer for you and your baby. 

We have a dedicated article on cucumbers and their benefits during pregnancy, too.

Other Ingredients in Tzatziki During Pregnancy

For another ingredient, garlic, it is safe to be consumed raw. Garlic in itself has antimicrobial properties that can even stand up against Staphylococcus aureus (source: Maxwell Scientific Organization)!

Vinegar is also safe as long as it’s pasteurized. Other recipes or commercial brands also use lemon juice as an ingredient.

Fresh dill, like other herbs and vegetables, should be thoroughly washed as well. 

If you make your own tzatziki sauce, ensure each fresh ingredient has been properly washed, stored, and handled. If you don’t have Greek yogurt on hand, you can use other yogurts provided that they are pasteurized. 

If you opt for buying tzatziki sauce, some popular options include:

These brands utilize pasteurized yogurts, which make them safe for you and your baby. 

Storing and Checking Tzatziki

According to research, tzatziki is high in moisture because of the cucumbers. This could make the sauce susceptible to microbial contamination where syneresis could occur (source: International Journal of Dairy Technology)

Products that have been added with any type of moisture before yogurt fermentation helped to lower syneresis. Those that have been added moisture after fermentation resulted in higher consistency, which means higher moisture.

While we don’t know how dairy producers combine ingredients, the good thing is that they also add additives to stabilize their products and further lessen the probability of syneresis.

Syneresis is the separation of a thicker consistency from a thinner consistency in a sample. In this case, it’s yogurt.

Some of these additives include whey protein, albumin, and sodium caseinate (source: International Journal of Dairy Technology).

Other stabilizers that help lower syneresis are pectin, guar gum, CMC, carrageenan, S. alginate, cornstarch, gelatin, and others similar to them (source: Science Alert).

If you see these when you buy tzatziki, it means that that product has been stabilized in regards to moisture content. 

Do note that commercial tzatziki can contain other ingredients such as pepper, onions, nuts, starches, and others. 

Tzatziki is made with yogurt so it only makes sense to refrigerate it just like you would milk or other dairy products. For homemade tzatziki dip, it can be safely refrigerated for 3–4 days (source: Know Your Pantry). 

For commercial products, it is about the same timeline as homemade tzatziki. Whether you have one or the other, always seal them in an airtight container in the fridge. If you search online for storage solutions, you’ll find that some people choose to freeze the sauce. 

To tell if the tzatziki dip has gone bad, never taste-test it. Instead, look for visible signs of spoilage.

Because it contains yogurt, signs of spoilage will include a pool of liquid atop and a curdling on the bottom (source: Know Your Pantry). 

greek patties with tzatziki dip on a plate

Is Tzatziki Pasteurized? 

Most (if not all) tzatziki sauces or dips are pasteurized. This makes them safe to consume during pregnancy. Homemade versions, on the other hand, can only be safe if you prepare them safely, taking each ingredient into consideration. 

If you are dining in restaurants and want to order tzatziki dip, confirm that it has pasteurized before consuming. It’s best if they are using commercial tzatziki with low moisture. If they are not, it would be best to select another option from the menu. 

Tzatziki dips go great with pita bread, chips, sandwiches, salads, and more as long as you prepare them safely or buy from the grocery to cut out the extra effort of at-home preparation.