Is Mousse Cake Safe During Pregnancy?

During pregnancy, many women take extra care to eat a more nutritious diet. They often avoid foods that may harm the developing fetus, such as alcohol, excessive amounts of sugars or caffeine, fish that may contain mercury, and some dairy products. The increased hormonal activity during pregnancy depresses women's immune systems, making them more susceptible to food-borne illness. Raw eggs -- an ingredient in some desserts, such as mousse, as well as homemade mayonnaise and ice cream -- should be avoided, since they may contain harmful bacteria.

A slice of chocolate mousse cake being taken from a larger cake. (Image: Aiselin82/iStock/Getty Images)

Nutritional Needs During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, women often seek to eat a healthy, balanced diet. They may also take prenatal vitamins to ensure both their nutritional needs and those of the developing fetus are met. The developing fetus increases a woman's need for calcium, folic acid and protein, as well as several key vitamins. Pregnant women should also follow safe food handling practices, especially when preparing raw meat, poultry or eggs.

Foods to Avoid During Pregnancy

Just as pregnant women are encouraged to add healthy foods to their diet, they are also cautioned against eating certain foods to avoid potential harm to the fetus. According to the UK Dairy Council, pregnant women should abstain from alcohol, mold-ripened cheeses, unpasteurized products, raw meat and some types of fish and seafood. Raw eggs are another food to be avoided, since they can contain harmful salmonella bacteria.

Mousse and Mousse Cake

Although eggs are an ingredient of many dishes and desserts, in most cases, they are cooked or baked, which serves to kill any bacteria that might have been present. A few desserts, however, are made with raw eggs, which are not at any point baked or cooked, presenting a potential health hazard to pregnant women. One of these is mousse, a light, airy, custard-like dessert. Since it is not cooked, it should be avoided by pregnant women. Even when used in a cake, the mousse itself is not cooked or baked, although the crust or cake portion may be.

Making Desserts Safe to Eat

Pregnant women should avoid any uncooked desserts containing eggs, so mousse and mousse cakes are not safe choices. Homemade ice creams are traditionally made with raw eggs as well, so pregnant women should avoid these, too. To protect against possible food-borne bacterial infections, pregnant women should eat only those desserts prepared with pasteurized and fully cooked ingredients. Most commercially prepared ice creams and baked goods are safe to eat. Homemade desserts are also safe, providing they have been completely cooked or baked. According to food safety experts at Colorado State University, cooking food to internal temperatures of 165 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient to kill most common bacteria.

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