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Food Safety in Pregnancy booklet now available

Food Safety in Pregnancy booklet now available

Sharon Milburn knows only too well the pain of losing a child through foodborne illness. Her baby Georgia died two days after being born by emergency caesarean in April 2002 because of listeria.

Pregnant again, Sharon now has the Food Safety in Pregnancy Booklet to guide her on keeping her and her baby safe during pregnancy. The booklet was launched today at Parliament by Minister for Food Safety Annette King.

The booklet, initially written by Dr Cathy Pikholz and Dr Greg Simmons of the Auckland District Health Board was only available to Auckland women. Demand for it from other areas prompted the New Zealand Food Safety Authority to reproduce it and it is now available to pregnant women and their carers throughout the country.

“Foodborne illness upsets the lives of thousands of people in New Zealand each year,” NZFSA Communications and Business Services Director Sandra Daly said.

“Pregnant women and their babies are more at risk because their levels of immunity are lower than usual. Foodborne illness can cause miscarriage and serious illness or death in newborn babies. The death of Sharon’s baby Georgia is a sad reminder that foodborne illness can have a devastating effect on what should be one of life’s more joyous occasions,“ Mrs Daly said.

“Food by its very nature is risky. The purpose of the Food Safety in Pregnancy Booklet is to help women manage some of those risks. And while there are no guarantees, at least women will know by following the advice in this booklet they have done all they can to keep themselves and their babies safe.”

Sharon knew some of the risks associated with food during pregnancy. She knew to avoid foods like shellfish and pate. But there were other risks she wasn’t aware of.

The booklet outlines the different types of foodborne illness, how they can affect pregnant women and their babies and how women can help to avoid them. It also contains a list of foods and their associated risks. The basic message of food safety, as always, is clean, cook, cover, chill.

The booklet gives practical advice on preparing, cooking and storing food safely as well as good basic general advice on other issues for pregnant women. Those issues include eating out, the use of folic acid, mercury in fish, safety around pets and farm animals, and the consumption of alcohol during pregnancy. Advice on safe gardening and overseas travel is also given.

Sharon Milburn is pleased with the booklet.

“I think the booklet is excellent. I particularly like the pull out pages in the centre. I have stuck them on the fridge so that I can see quite easily what I can and can’t eat. I have given it to a couple of friends and they have found it very useful. My advice is that it is okay to be careful. People say pregnancy isn’t an illness, you can just carry on as normal. It isn’t an illness but you have to take care and be more cautious than you normally would,” she said.

The booklet is available from all public health units.

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