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Navigating Cheese Choices During Pregnancy: Can You Say Yes to Cotija?

Hey there, future moms! If you’re riding the pregnancy wave and craving some cheesy goodness, you might be wondering about the do’s and don’ts of cheese consumption. Specifically, can you indulge in that savory cotija cheese during your pregnancy journey? Whether you’re in your first trimester or closing in on your third, let’s unwrap the facts about cotija cheese, queso fresco, and your prenatal diet. Get ready to cheese the day, the safe way!

Understanding Cotija Cheese:

First up, let’s talk about cotija. This crumbly, salty cheese hails from Mexico and is often sprinkled on top of street corn, tacos, and beans. It’s the go-to garnish for adding a punch of flavor. But the big question is, is cotija cheese pasteurized? Pasteurization is the process that kills harmful bacteria by heating the cheese to a certain temperature. Most cotija cheese sold in the U.S. is pasteurized, but it’s always a good idea to check the label to be sure.

Cheese in Your First Trimester:

For the newbies to the pregnancy club, the first trimester is a time of major changes and caution. When it comes to cotija cheese in the first trimester, if it’s pasteurized, you’re generally in the clear. But if that label isn’t giving you a thumbs up for pasteurization, it’s best to steer clear to avoid any risks.

Third Trimester Cheese Cravings:

Fast forward to your third trimester, and you’re likely getting the nursery ready and counting down the days. Your body is prepping for the big day, and so should your diet. Can you eat cotija cheese while pregnant in the third Trimester? It’s the same rule as before: pasteurized? Yes. Unpasteurized? Better not.

Also Read:

-> Can I Enjoy Bamboo Shoots During Pregnancy?
-> Can You Eat Cooked Snails When Pregnant?
-> Navigating Seafood During Pregnancy: Can You Dive into Conch?

The Queso Fresco Query:

Now, what about queso fresco? This cheese is often found in Mexican cuisine and is known for its fresh and mild flavor. Many love it, but accidentally ate queso fresco while pregnant? Don’t panic. If it was a one-off and it was pasteurized, you’re likely okay. However, unpasteurized queso fresco has been linked to listeriosis, a harmful infection, so it’s typically on the no-list for pregnant women.

Cooked Queso Fresco:

But here’s some gouda news! Can you eat cooked queso fresco while pregnant? Cooking it through can kill those pesky bacteria, making it safer for you to eat during pregnancy. So if you’re cooking at home, make sure that queso fresco hits a high enough temperature to be considered safe.

General Cheese Safety During Pregnancy:

Let’s cheese to it and lay down some general dairy dos:

  1. Always opt for pasteurized cheeses.
  2. If you’re unsure, cooking the cheese can reduce the risk of bacteria.
  3. Soft, mold-ripened cheeses are usually a no-go unless cooked.
  4. Keep your cheese refrigerated and consume it by the use-by date.


Pregnancy is a journey full of questions, and what you eat is a big one! Remember, when it comes to cotija, queso fresco, and all their cheesy friends, pasteurization and proper cooking are key. Keep an eye on those labels, and when in doubt, give it a little heat treatment.

Go forth and conquer those cravings, but keep it safe for you and your baby. And always, always check with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.


“Is It Safe to Eat Cheese When You’re Pregnant?” –

“Listeriosis and Pregnancy” – CDC

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