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Is cream cheese pasteurized? Why or why not?

The cream cheese. Whether you use it to make frosting for your red velvet cake or just spread it on your morning bagel, this crowd-pleaser is sure to satisfy your craving for delicious comfort food.

And speaking of cravings, if you’re pregnant, you may find this treat — whether used in sweet or savory dishes — even more irresistible. Nonetheless, you may have heard that soft cheeses should be avoided when pregnant.

This raises the issue of whether you can consume cream cheese while pregnant. The answer is generally yes (cue the cheers from all you cheesecake lovers out there!) with a few things to consider.

You’ve probably been warned about soft cheese during pregnancy — like Brie, Camembert, chèvre, and others — but the thing is, cream cheese isn’t actually in this category. Well, it’s soft, but that’s because it’s a spread.

Cream cheese is often produced using cream, although it may also be created with a cream and milk mixture. Pasteurization is the process of heating cream or cream and milk to temperatures that destroy pathogens (“bad” bacteria) and make it safe for ingestion. It is then curdled, often by the addition of lactic acid bacteria (“good” bacteria).

Next, cream cheese manufacturers heat the curds and add stabilizers and thickeners to give the spread its smooth texture.

Pasteurization of the cream is the critical stage in the production of American cream cheese that makes it safe for pregnant women to ingest.

As previously stated, the heating procedure destroys dangerous germs. This includes listeria bacteria, which can cause a dangerous infection in those with weaker immune systems like newborns, older adults, and — you guessed it — pregnant people.

So, cream cheese lovers, rejoice: it’s okay to eat while pregnant.

We couldn’t discover a single store-bought cream cheese that used raw, unpasteurized cream. Presumably, though, such a product might be out there. Similarly, you may find instructions for producing your own cream cheese from raw cream.

In addition, there are products that are much like cream cheese in other countries that might use raw dairy. The most known example is perhaps Neufchâtel cheese, which is manufactured in France from unpasteurized milk.

So if your friend brings you back French Neufchâtel cheese and a bottle of French wine, you’ll need to take a pass on both — at least until your bun is out of the oven. (It should be noted that American varieties of Neufchâtel cheese are pasteurized and hence safe.)

Consuming cream cheese made from unpasteurized cream or milk isn’t safe if you’re pregnant, period. It may result in listeriosis, an illness caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes that presents major hazards to you and your developing baby.

Pay attention to the expiration date

Additionally, cream cheese does not have a lengthy shelf life. So pay attention to the expiration date or consume it within 2 weeks of purchase, whichever comes first.

Resist sneaking a taste with your spreading knife and then going back in for more – this introduces germs that may grow and flourish, producing microbial contamination and hastening the deterioration of the food.

Cream cheese, like many cheeses and cheese spreads, is high in fat. For example, 1 ounce of the most popular brand — Kraft Philadelphia cream cheese — has 10 grams of fat, of which 6 are saturated. This amounts to a stunning 29 percent of your daily recommended saturated fat intake.

Fat isn’t the enemy when you’re pregnant — in fact, you need fat to grow a baby! But, eating too much may raise your risk of problems such as gestational diabetes.

Eat cream cheese on rare occasions. There are also whipped varieties that have the same great taste but contain less fat.

Cream cheese isn’t actually a soft cheese — it’s a cheese spread made with pasteurized dairy. As a result, pregnant women may eat it safely.

Of course, whether pregnant or not, pay attention to expiry dates and ingredients while deciding what to consume. For all stages of life, including pregnancy, it’s best to consume a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and healthy fat and protein sources.

But, a little cream cheese spread on a toasted bagel may go a long way toward fulfilling a need — so plunge in, knowing it’s completely safe for you and baby.