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Government Releases Food Safety Manual for Pregnant Women

The two federal agencies in charge of food safety in the U.S. have jointly published a manual of advice for avoiding foodborne illness during pregnancy.

Pregnant women are at higher risk for severe illness from certain foodborne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes and Toxoplasma gondii, because hormonal changes render their immune systems more susceptible to infection. Listeria, Toxoplasma and other bugs can be dangerous or even fatal to both the mother and her unborn baby.

Food Safety for Pregnant Women” was released Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with updated versions of five pre-existing food safety booklets for other groups of people at risk for serious illness from food poisoning. These include guides for cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with HIV/AIDS, older adults and people with diabetes.

“These booklets are a much needed resource for consumers who are at increased risk of getting sick from food,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen in a statement Wednesday. “The clear, understandable information in these booklets will help at-risk individuals feel confident about the safety of foods they prepare and eat. The booklets are also helpful to physicians and other health care providers for educating their at-risk patients about foodborne illnesses.”

Copies of the booklets have been mailed to healthcare providers around the country who treat patients in any of the six categories for which food safety guides are available.

The 24-page booklets explain why each category of individual has a greater likelihood of developing a severe illness after exposure to foodborne pathogens and offers advice on safe shopping, cooking and dining practices, accompanied by explanatory charts and illustrations.

Each includes three tear-out pages that include tips for shopping at the grocery store, advice for eating at restaurants and a list safe cooking temperatures.

“Everyone from farmers to food manufacturers to food preparers in the home has a role in food safety,” said FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods Michael Taylor Wednesday. “It is important that consumers, particularly those who are at higher risk of foodborne illness, have information they can use to do their part in preventing illness by properly selecting and preparing foods.”

The six food safety manuals are available for free on FDA’s website.

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