When a woman becomes pregnant, she has to memorize a long list of dos and don’ts that never seems to end. Some of the stuff is intuitive – no skydiving or scuba adventures, for example.
Other things, especially in the realm of your diet, are not always so obvious, which is why most women play it safe with what they eat and take no chances.
However, when it comes to delicacies like caviar, those shiny, salty pearls can look too good to pass up!
Here’s the question – can you eat caviar while pregnant, and does its safety depend on the type of caviar you consume? Are there exceptions to these rules, and does the quality of the product matter as well?
We’ll touch on all these questions and more, starting now.
Navigating pregnancy is all about understanding risks in everything you do, from the way you exercise and sleep to how you travel and work.
Diet is one of the most critical parts of this risk assessment, and there are some things to keep in mind when considering eating caviar during pregnancy.
Raw Foods – Seafood and More
It’s common knowledge that raw foods are cause for concern when pregnant due to the various types of bacteria that can be found on these uncooked products that could make their way to the child.
With seafood, in particular, the main threats are listeria – a common source of food poisoning – and parasites, which are typically tiny worms that swim around in large cuts of finfish as well as smaller forms of shellfish.
Thankfully, these things can be quickly cooked away at high heats, meaning that pregnant women can enjoy seafood when it’s prepared properly.
With that in mind, true quality caviar undergoes no processing or cooking – only salting – making it technically a raw food. More on that, soon.
Other foods might be an issue for women during pregnancy, especially some luxury dishes that are traditionally served raw or very undercooked.
While adult men and women usually have no problem eating things like steak tartare, sushi, and other raw-food favorites, the issue is that the unborn child has an underdeveloped immune system as it is still navigating the very first stages of life.
Additionally, pregnant women must always be careful with foods like chicken, beef, fish – really any protein that comes from a natural source and must be cooked to the fullest.
It’s not a bad idea to cook veggies either, or at least make sure they’re washed 100% clean before eating. Also, absolutely no oysters!
Types of Caviar – Safe or Not
Of all the luxury items on the menu at a gourmet restaurant, caviar is king.
Pregnant women already need to avoid the tartare, the carpaccio, and the champagne, so can they at least enjoy a scoop of caviar to get a taste of the high life? Let’s find out.
Authentic Sturgeon Caviar
We’re talking about the real deal, here: the top-tier salted sturgeon eggs from renowned species like Beluga, Kaluga Hybrid Reserve, Sevruga, and Royal Ossetra.
Remember that the everyday roe that garnishes sushi and comes from trout, salmon, and flying fish - these aren’t the real sturgeon caviar products that earn the five-star accolades. Furthermore, foods like Capelin, Paddlefish, and Bowfin might look like caviar, but they aren’t from the sturgeon family, and therefore not deserving of the name.
Knowing this, it’s indeed safer for pregnant women to consume real, quality caviar instead of these roe alternatives, especially if the pearls are extremely fresh and coming from a well-trusted source.
Real sturgeon caviar can sometimes contain trace amounts of listeria but not in considerable quantities. On the flipside, quality control practices on run-of-the-mill roes are not quite up to par in comparison, making them a definite no-go for pregnant women.
Let’s put it this way: there is a slight risk to eating caviar while pregnant, but compared to the other raw foods and roes we’ve discussed so far, the concerns are minimal. We recommend that pregnant women not overindulge in caviar and always consult a doctor if they do.
For women who want to protect themselves completely from bacteria and take no chances, pasteurized caviar is their best bet.
This type of caviar is cooked at high temperatures for a moderate length of time, meaning that those tiny organisms like listeria don’t stand a chance. The product is clean, has a longer shelf life, and can be enjoyed without a worry in the world.
Pasteurized caviar has a reputation for not being as fresh or authentic in terms of taste and texture, but that’s simply the tradeoff for enjoying a product that you know is 100% safe.
Finding pasteurized caviar isn’t always easy, and you have to be certain of the production process before buying (read those labels), but it’s a sure and safe way to indulge in caviar while pregnant.
Compressed Caviar and More
Caviar comes in more shapes and types than you might know, and that’s good news for pregnant women who want to enjoy this ingredient.
Producers use the less-than-perfect eggs from the harvest to create products like caviar powder and pressed caviar that can be garnished, grated, and layered onto your favorite dishes to add an undeniable depth of flavor.
Look for products called Payusnaya – the Russian word for pressed caviar – which can be preserved for up to six months and contains no unwanted bacteria. These products can be found in blocks or bars (not unlike chocolate) and have many interesting culinary applications.
No, it’s not real, fresh caviar, but at least it’s a way to get that flavor and enjoy a slice of luxury during pregnancy with zero risks.
Quality is Key
The best caviar in the world can be hard to resist, even while pregnant. In fact, some women even find themselves craving caviar due to its amazing health benefits and robust nutritional profile. Here are some criteria for choosing caviar if you are really feeling the pull.
Harvesting and Production
Today’s top caviar producers use advanced aquaculture practices to keep sturgeons healthy, happy, and giving the best quality eggs possible.
This consistency ensures that each jar of caviar is high-grade, with minimal outside influences. For pregnant women, it’s best to minimize variables and go for a predictable product.
Freshness and Storage
We all know that fresh is best when it comes to caviar, and this is especially true for pregnant women who want a taste. Make sure you’re buying from trusted vendors that not only cultivate the best products but also take extreme care in packaging and shipping the jars to your door.
This way, you’ll know that your caviar is impeccably fresh and safer than something sitting in the cold case for weeks at a time at your local specialty market. Besides, the caviar always tastes better when it’s fresh from the source.
Can You Eat Caviar During Pregnancy
We’ve given you the facts on whether or not it’s safe to eat caviar while pregnant, and as you can tell, it’s your decision at the end of the day.
As recommended by the FDA, pregnant women and children should eat fish, meat and eggs that have been thoroughly cooked to eliminate the microbes responsible for foodborne illness. As a result it is wise to avoid caviar in all its “raw” forms and opt for processed options.
However, suppose you simply can’t resist a bite of luxury during those nine months. In that case, we recommend you go for nothing but the highest quality caviar that comes from reputable vendors following pristine practices of cultivation, packaging, shipping, and storage.
Only the best for you and your little one!