Gorgonzola is an Italian blue cheese that is popular in many countries. It’s made from unskimmed pasteurized cow’s milk and is a type of soft blue veined cheese.
As with other blue cheeses, it’s not always made clear to pregnant women that they should check it before eating.
Gorgonzola is not safe to eat while pregnant unless it has been thoroughly cooked. Even though Gorgonzola is usually pasteurized, it contains more moisture than some other types of cheese, which enables bacteria like listeria to grow.
There are some instances where you CAN eat gorgonzola and we’ll look at them here, including some delicious ways to eat cooked gorgonzola safely, too!
Is Gorgonzola Safe During Pregnancy?
Gorgonzola, as a soft blue cheese with more moisture than hard types of cheeses, is not safe to eat when pregnant.
Gorgonzola carries a risk of listeriosis, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends pregnant women not eat any soft cheeses or blue-veined cheeses (Source: ROG).
In 2005, Italian scientists measured over 1600 samples of Gorgonzola and tested for the presence of listeria.
They found that listeria was present in 2.1 – 4.8% of the samples, tested at the date of expiration (source: International Journal of Food Microbiology).
They also noted that listeria was more prevalent if the cheese was nearing the end of its shelf life or expiration date.
This study highlights the fact that listeria can grow under refrigeration – which is why it’s not safe to eat cold or uncooked Gorgonzola when you’re pregnant.
This applies to ALL types of gorgonzola, including the two main types:
- Gorgonzola Dolce (or Sweet Gorgonzola)
- Gorgonzola Piccante (also called Gorgonzola Montagna, Gorgonzola, Naturale, or Mountain Gorgonzola).
Gorgonzola Piccante has been aged for longer. There are only certain regions in Italy where this cheese may be produced, as gorgonzola has Protected Geographical Status under EU law (Source: Wikipedia).
Is Gorgonzola Pasteurized?
Gorgonzola is made from pasteurized cow’s milk, but this does not mean that it is safe to eat while pregnant.
The danger of eating gorgonzola while pregnant comes from its high moisture content, where listeria bacteria can multiply even once this cheese has been manufactured (Source: NHS).
The longer Gorgonzola is stored (even in the fridge, in a sealed package), the more time listeria has to grow (Source: PubMed).
Heat can kill this bacteria, so cooking Gorgonzola makes it safe.
Is Heated or Cooked Gorgonzola Safe During Pregnancy?
Cooked or heated gorgonzola is safe to eat during pregnancy as long as it the cooking process heats the cheese until it is steaming hot.
This means that as long as the gorgonzola has been heated to around 160 degrees Fahrenheit (around 72c), any dangerous bacteria in the food will have been killed and it will therefore be safe to eat (Source: HealthLink).
Just know that you may or may not like the taste of hot Gorgonzola! The mold tends to separate from the cheese, but there ARE some dishes where hot Gorgonzola can still be tasty, even if it doesn’t look pretty!
If Gorgonzola isn’t the only blue cheese you want to check during pregnancy, we have got a complete blue cheese guide for pregnant women – including dips, dressings, and more.
Gorgonzola Dishes and Pregnancy Safety
Here are some common dishes that contain gorgonzola and whether or not they are safe to eat while pregnant:
Gorgonzola Sauce During Pregnancy
You can find gorgonzola sauce on steaks and over vegetables. Usually the gorgonzola is only melted over low heat and therefore has not been heated sufficiently to make it safe during pregnancy.
However, if the Gorgonzola sauce is heated thoroughly and served hot, then it is fine. If in doubt, ask the restaurant or provider.
If you are buying commercially-prepared gorgonzola sauce, a good way to tell if it’s pasteurized is if it is sitting on a shelf. Shelf sauces are pasteurized so that they don’t require refrigeration.
Avoid refrigerated ‘fresh made’ gorgonzola sauce, as you can be sure that there is a greater risk for bacteria to survive even when kept cold (such as listeria). Heating the sauce makes it safe, whether pasteurized or not.
Gorgonzola with a salad
Despite salads being a healthy pregnancy option, Gorgonzola cheese in a salad is not a safe way to eat gorgonzola as the cheese usually has not been cooked to a high temperature and is often served cold.
If the cheese is served steaming hot on top of a salad, then it is safe to eat – though this will create a gooey texture that is probably not that pleasant on a salad!
Baked gorgonzola is safe to eat, as long as the cheese is served steaming hot.
Any kind of baked cheese is usually baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177C), so this includes gorgonzola baked inside puff pastry, pies, and quiches. They’ll all be safe when pregnant if eaten hot, and fresh.
Gorgonzola on top of pizza
Gorgonzola on a pizza is just one of the many pizza toppings that are safe for pregnant women to eat if it has been subjected to high temperatures while being cooked.
As long as it is served steaming hot, it will be fine to eat, as pizza is usually cooked at very high temperatures in pizza ovens.
The only thing to look out for is if the cheese is merely melted, rather than cooked – you can read more about this in our pregnancy guide to pizza.
Gorgonzola ravioli or pasta when pregnant
Ravioli or other foods that are stuffed with gorgonzola may or may not be safe to eat, depending on how hot the filling is.
If you are making yours at home, you can easily heat the gorgonzola till it’s sizzling hot before stuffing your ravioli or another type of pasta.
If, however, you are in a restaurant, most of the time the gorgonzola will not have been heated to a high enough temperature for you to be sure it is safe to eat. Ask at the restaurant before ordering to be on the safe side.
Gorgonzola gnocchi are usually gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce.
As with the other foods above, check with the restaurant whether the cheese sauce has been heated till sizzling, rather than just warmed through.
If in doubt, choose a different dish. If you are making this at home, of course, you can heat your cheese sauce till it is steaming hot and know then that it will be safe to eat.
I Accidentally Ate Gorgonzola While Pregnant – What Should I Do?
If you accidentally eat cold or uncooked Gorgonzola while pregnant, the first thing is to remember is that the odds of contracting listeria are still very low. You should try not to worry, or panic.
Pregnant women should avoid Gorgonzola during pregnancy to reduce an already low risk of listeria contamination, and it helps to keep this in perspective.
The incidence of listeriosis in pregnancy is relatively low: 12 per 100,000 people (Source: ROG). However, Gorgonzola is known to be a listeria risk, so it’s best to keep an eye out for any unusual symptoms.
The symptoms to look for are most commonly fever or feeling as if you have the flu with fatigue and/or muscle aches (Source: CDC).
If you have either of those symptoms, or are worried about having eaten Gorgonzola, consult your health practitioner as soon as possible.
However, you should know that the odds are in your favor, and it’s very likely that everything will be fine. It’s likely your doctor will also advise you to watch and wait for symptoms.
You should continue to avoid Gorgonzola and other unsafe cheese for the duration of your pregnancy, unless they’ve been heated up.
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.