Can Pregnant Women Eat Tartar (Tartare) Sauce? Is It Safe?

Many women choose to eat more fish in pregnancy as part of a healthy diet. If you’re among them, you might have wondered if it’s safe to eat probably the most common accompaniment – tartar sauce (or “tartare” if you’re in the UK, France, Australia or NZ).

Can Pregnant Women Eat Tartar Sauce? Any tartar sauce that is mayonnaise-based should be made with pasteurized eggs. This means that most commercial tartar sauces are safe, whereas homemade tartar sauce may be unsafe for pregnant women.

In case you were wondering whether you should avoid all tartar sauce, I’ve delved into which brands are pregnancy-safe, and what to do if you’re making tartar sauce at home, too.

Is Store-Bought Tartar Sauce Pasteurized?

If you’re buying tartar sauce in a supermarket or store that has been commercially-made, then it’s almost certainly a) mayonnaise-based, and b) made with pasteurized eggs. This means it’s safe in pregnancy.

This is because eggs often have to be pasteurized, by law, to be used in commercial (factory-produced) products in many countries.

For more on mayonnaise, raw eggs and pregnancy, here’s a complete guide to mayonnaise when you’re pregnant. If the tartar sauce you like is mayo-based, the same rules apply.

Which Brands Of Tartar Sauce Are Safe in Pregnancy?

I know that when you’re busy shopping or cooking, you don’t want to start double-checking your favorite brands and would rather have specific ones named that are pregnancy-safe.

To help out, here’s a list of the most common tartar sauce brands that are OK to eat if you’re pregnant:

  • Heinz Tartar Sauce – this is fine to eat if you’re pregnant, as it’s made and produced by Kraft (below), who use pasteurized eggs.
  • Kraft Tartar Sauce – I reached out to Kraft who confirmed that all their mayo products (or anything with egg in) is always made with pasteurized egg. This means it’s fine to eat their tartar sauce when you’re pregnant.
  • McDonald’s Tartar Sauce – is safe to eat if you’re pregnant as it’s made with pasteurized ingredients, as are all their dipping sauces. You might also be interested in this complete guide to the McDonald’s Menu for Pregnant Women.
  • Colman’s Tartare Sauce – one of the British brands that gets exported a lot. Colman’s Tartare is safe in pregnancy as it contains powdered, pasteurized eggs.
  • Masterfoods Tartare Sauce – this popular Australian brand is a mayo-based tartare sauce, but doesn’t feature egg at all in the ingredients (source: Masterfoods). The other ingredients are fine in pregnancy, so Masterfoods Tartare Sauce is safe to eat.
  • Louisiana Fish Fry Tartar Sauce – Safe to eat in pregnancy as it’s made with pasteurized eggs and egg yolk.

If your favorite brand isn’t on this list and it’s from a supermarket, a good rule of thumb is that if it’s shelf-stable (not in a fridge) when you buy it, it’s usually pasteurized. This is the case for most store-bought tartar sauce brands that come in a jar or bottle, in the non-refrigerated part of the store.

If you buy ‘fresh’ tartar sauce made in-house, in a smaller local store or in a restaurant, it might be homemade and unpasteurized, which isn’t always safe in pregnancy:

tartar sauce

Can Pregnant Women Eat Homemade Tartar Sauce?

Since tartar sauce is mayonnaise-based, whether homemade versions are safe or not in pregnancy depends on if the mayonnaise itself has been scratch-made from raw eggs. If it has, it’s not safe in pregnancy due to the risk of salmonella from raw or undercooked eggs (source: PMC).

The only exception to this rule is if you’re in the United Kingdom and the eggs used are ‘Lion Mark’ eggs, which are considered to have a very low salmonella risk. For more on this, see my complete guide to eggs in pregnancy.

Homemade tartar sauce is more common in fine dining restaurants, or when making mayonnaise at home, which is a whipped emulsion of egg yolks, acid (such as vinegar or lemon juice) and spices.

If you usually make your mayonnaise (and tartar sauce) from scratch using raw eggs, then you should switch to commercially-made, pasteurized mayo for the duration of your pregnancy.

If you’re eating out in a place that makes its own tartar sauce, ask first if commercial mayo has been used as a base. If it has, it will be pregnancy-safe, but if the sauce has been made with a raw-egg mayo or similar base, then you should avoid it when pregnant.

Are all Tartar Sauce Ingredients OK When Pregnant?

Tartar sauce isn’t just mayo, of course. Here’s a list of all the other ingredients you might find in tartar sauce. They are all safe in pregnancy:

  • Herbs such as parsley, dill or tarragon
  • Mustard – more on mustard in pregnancy here
  • Other spices and seasonings like pepper, salt or ground spices
  • Dill pickles, gherkins or relishes
  • Capers
  • Hard-boiled eggs – make sure they really are hard-boiled with no soft yolk. Read more about egg safety in pregnancy here
  • Lemon juice or other acids like vinegars
capers-tartare-sauce

A Pregnancy-Safe Tartar Sauce Recipe

Many of the existing recipes for tartar sauce call for store-bought mayo such as Hellman’s or Kraft. If this is the case, you can whip some tartar sauce up easily at home.

Making pregnancy-safe tartar sauce at home takes a few minutes and tastes MUCH better than the pre-made stuff in a jar.

Here’s AB with his recipe, which is the best one I’ve found using commercial mayo:

Can I Eat Tartar Sauce in Early Pregnancy?

You can eat tartar sauce at any stage of pregnancy, including the first trimester. The most important thing is that you avoid the types made with raw egg, or the ones that are based on raw egg mayonnaise throughout the duration of your pregnancy.

Tartar sauce often goes with fish, which is something you should try to eat more of in pregnancy, as it’s nutritious and a lean source of protein.

However, tartar sauce also comes with a lot of deep-fried fish and seafood, so opt for baked, broiled or roasted fish dishes if you can, rather than those laden with calories and fat from batter when you’re pregnant. You can eat deep-fried foods, but try to have them in moderation.

This site covers a lot about eating fish in pregnancy, such as this article on mahi-mahi or monkfish, seafood like clams, shrimp and crawfish, and also a complete guide to how much tuna you can eat when pregnant, and how to check for the mercury levels it contains, too.

This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.

Gina Waggott, Medically Reviewed by Janet Gordon RD, MBDA

Gina is the owner and founder of Pregnancy Food Checker. She holds a Certification on Nutrition and Lifestyle during Pregnancy from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich and a Diploma in Human Nutrition. Articles are medically reviewed by Janet Gordon RD, MBDA, a Registered Dietitian specializing in maternal health, including diabetes and obesity in pregnancy.

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