Can You Eat Cotija Cheese While Pregnant?

Cotija cheese, also queso cotija is a type of Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk. It is salty and crumbly, which is usually used as a topping for some dishes like tacos or enchidas.

Pregnant women can safely eat cotija cheese but under certain conditions.

Pasteurization

It is advised that pregnant women avoid soft cheeses as they are usually made with unpasteurized milk. Products made with unpasteurized milk have a high chance of containing bacteria known as listeria, which can cause foodborne illness very detrimental to you and the baby.

However most cotija cheese all around the United States are made with pasteurized milk so you can be sure of being a lil bit safe if you’re getting from the supermarkets.

Despite that, I would always recommend that you check the product label to verify. If you are eating out, or if the label doesn’t state it, it’s best to get rid of it or seek clarification.

Storage and handling

Even if a cheese is made from pasteurized milk, there’s still going to be the risk of contamination when it’s mishandled and poorly stored.

For that matter you should make sure the cotija you consume is stored at the most appropriate temperature and is not past its expiry date.

Personal sensitivities

Some women may have allergies with dairy consumption, which can make it very uncomfortable for them to eat such stuff including cotija.

If you are one of these women then you might certainly want to discuss with your doctor first anytime you need to eat milky products or better yet, find alternatives for them.  

Moderation

As with any other food you’d take now, moderation is the utmost key. Cheese is a good source of calcium and proteins but it can also be high in saturated fats and sodium – so be mindful of your overall dietary balance.

Is cotija cheese pasteurized?

When cotija cheese is produced commercially and sold in the United States, it is typically from pasteurized cow milk. In the dairy industries all over the states, pasteurization is a common practice.

Most producers do this to make sure the product aligns with the safety guidelines set by the FDA, reducing the risk of harmful bacteria and pathogens in the milk, as well as perhaps increase their shelf lives.

However, it’s important to check the product label or ask the manufacturer to confirm that the specific brand you are considering is made from pasteurized milk.

The label should state the ingredients used and a brief description of them, including whether the milk is pasteurized.

If you’re uncertain about the pasteurization status of a particular cotija cheese product, it’s best to play it safe and choose one that emphatically states it is made from pasteurized milk.

What Mexican cheese can you not eat while pregnant?

While on this journey, it’s generally recommended to avoid certain types of Mexican cheeses that are especially made from unpasteurized or raw milk as they can contain bacteria like Listeria.

Those to avoid thoroughly are:

  • Queso fresco
  • Quesco de Oaxaca
  • Queso Panela
  • Queso Anejo

Accidentally ate queso fresco while pregnant, what should I do?

If you accidentally ate queso fresco or any other cheese made with unpasteurized milk while pregnant, it’s important not to fret.

While there is a slightly increased risk of Listeria infection from these unpasteurized cheeses, the risk of actual infection remains very minimal. Most people who consume unpasteurized cheese do not develop listeria infection.

However it’s a good idea to monitor your health for any weird symptoms over the next few weeks.

Listeria infection can have symptoms like fever, muscle aches, nausea and in more severe cases, it can even lead to more serious complications. If you experience any symptom that concern you, reach out to your doctor immediately.

FAQs

  1. Is cotija cheese raw?

    Cotija cheese is traditionally made from raw cow’s milk. It is salty, strong-flavored, slightly pungent, and usually white or pale yellow

  2. Is café rio cotija cheese pasteurized?

    You should be sure to directly contact Café Rio or check the menu’s details for this information.

  3. Is cotija a soft cheese?

    Cotija cheese can have a range of textures depending on its age. Fresh cotija cheese tends to be softer.

  4. Is feta cheese safe during pregnancy?

    Most feta cheese in the U.S. is pasteurized, which means it’s safe to eat during pregnancy.

Conclusion

Wrapping up, we recommend pregnant moms to eat cotija cheese if they want to but they should make sure it is made from pasteurized milk.

This is crucial, so always check the product’s label before buying or eating cotija cheese when pregnant.

The process of pasteurization is going to get rid of the possible bacteria and make it safe for both you and the little one. It’s always important to check the label of the cotija you get.

If the information isn’t very clear or if you’re dining out and aren’t sure about the cheese’s origin, it’s safest to avoid it.

Do not also forget to eat in moderation, remember it contains a significant amount of sodium and bingeing on high sodium products like this cheese can be very harmful.

Expectant moms with dairy sensitivities or allergies must also consult their health care experts for individualized recommendations.

References: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27052710/

Georgina Austin

Georgina Austin

Georgina is a certified midwife, a seasoned writer and a mother of twins - Noel and Noelle. She brings to this blog eleven years of experience in maternity support, coupled with her personal motherhood adventures to give you factual information on women's health.

Aside writing on pregnancy and breastfeeding, she writes on sexual health concerns, birth control guides, egg donation, sibling dynamics, and balancing the demands of multiple children.