3. Barbecue Chicken
The risk factor: As with burgers, eating undercooked chicken may set the stage for a risky bout of food poisoning.
Play it safe: Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken reaches 165°F on the grill. Also keep in mind that early research published in the journal Nutrition suggests that eating barbecued meat may lead to a lower birth weight. Experts explain that polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)—potentially harmful compounds created when meat is cooked at extremely high temperatures, such as over fire—may affect fetal development.
While this study is still preliminary and more research needs to be done, if you’re concerned, you may want to take an extra step and pre-cook your chicken before putting it on the grill. This minimizes the barbecue time and PAH formation, while still imparting that delicious smoky flavor.
4. Potato and Pasta Salads
The risk factor: If left out for too long, these delicious sides can become contaminated with bacteria like Listeria.
Play it safe: Unless you’re sure that these prepared foods were handled properly and not left out for more than two hours (or one hour if the temperature is more than 90°F), take a pass on these dishes.
The risk factor: These wispy plants grow in a moist, damp environment, which doubles as an ideal breeding ground for Listeria and other harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.
Play it safe: Because of potential exposure to these bacteria, the FDA warns that pregnant women should avoid all kinds of sprouts, including bean and alfalfa. So skip using this veggie in salads or as a burger topping.
6. Homemade Ice Cream
The risk factor: Some custard-based ice creams are made with raw eggs, which may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Play it safe: Chilly temperatures don’t wipe out bacteria, so ask for the ingredient list before helping yourself to a scoop. And check that dollop of freshly whipped cream is made with pasteurized whipped cream from the supermarket, not raw cream from a local dairy or farmer’s market. What about the stuff in canisters or containers? That whipped topping is safe.