This article deals with “whitefish”, a native species common to the USA, particularly Alaska. You might also have searched for “white fish”, as in general white-colored fish like codfish or pomfret, so there’s some information for you on that, too.
Can Pregnant Women Eat Whitefish? Alaskan Whitefish is safe to eat in pregnancy if it’s fully cooked, including by hot smoking. Cold smoked whitefish may not be safe for pregnant women. Spreads and dips containing whitefish may need further checks.
Fish is one of the best things you can eat during pregnancy so whitefish can definitely be on the menu – if you check a couple of things first.
What’s the Best White Fish For Pregnant Women?
In case you arrived here looking for white colored fish rather than the individual species called Whitefish (confusing, I know), first you ought to search this site to see if the particular species you’re looking for has been covered.
Looking for ‘white fish’ instead of whitefish? To see if a white fish species has been covered on Pregnancy Food Checker, head to the homepage and use the magnifying glass search symbol on the right.
In general, many white-colored fish species like cod, haddock, whiting, pomfret, pollock, and others are all safe in pregnancy if they’re fully cooked. Fish should never be eaten undercooked or raw (like in some sushi preparations).
The mercury level of your chosen fish is also an important consideration – again, search this site to look for specific fish, as this varies from type to type.
If you’re looking for Whitefish itself, like the Alaskan or Lake Superior type, then read on!
Is Whitefish Always Safe for Pregnant Women?
Fish is something that many pregnant women should eat. It’s a lean, healthy protein that is low in calories and contains many vitamins and minerals essential to pregnancy.
Whitefish is safe to eat when you’re pregnant, so long as it’s fully cooked. Undercooked or raw whitefish should be avoided in pregnancy (source: FDA).
The FDA recommends that fish should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145F / 63C and if already cooked, reheated to 165F / 74C. You can measure this accurately with a food thermometer (my recommended ones to use during pregnancy are here).
What’s the Mercury level of Whitefish?
According to FDA research, the mercury levels of whitefish averaged out at about 0.089 PPM (parts per million).
This means that whitefish has low to moderate amounts of mercury, and it shouldn’t be a concern in pregnancy if it’s part of a varied, healthy diet.
The American Pregnancy Association recommends that pregnant women eat a variety of fish and shellfish, rather than just one type.
Since Whitefish is lower in mercury (but not the lowest compared to some other fish), it’s safe to have one serving a week, which is usually about 4oz / 113g. It’s recommended that pregnant women have 2 – 3 servings of different, lower mercury fish per week (source: APA).
Can Pregnant Women Eat Smoked Whitefish?
There are two ways that whitefish can be smoked – cold-smoked (which is cured and then smoked at a low temperature) and hot-smoked (where the fish is cooked as part of the smoking process).
Only hot-smoked whitefish is safe during pregnancy, as this is cooked during smoking. If smoking the fish yourself or getting it from a non-commercial source, make sure it was smoked so that the internal temperature was 145F / 63C or above.
Avoid cold-smoked whitefish during pregnancy (source: FDA). This is because the fish is only cured, rather than cooked during the process. You can eat cold-smoked whitefish if it’s heated up to 165F / 74C or above, but this may alter the taste or texture.
Whitefish Spreads, Dips and Salad During Pregnancy
Since most whitefish products like dips and spreads are made of smoked whitefish, the above guidelines apply when it comes to checking whether the fish is hot or cold smoked.
Usually, hot smoked whitefish is the type used in dips and spreads, so it should be OK when you’re pregnant – but check the label first.
Whitefish salad can contain smoked or unsmoked whitefish, but it’s almost always cooked or hot smoked. Again, hot smoked is fine, so check the label first. You may also want to see what the salad is blended with. For example, here’s a complete guide to mayonnaise safety during pregnancy too.
Overall, whitefish can be enjoyed safely as part of a healthy, varied pregnancy diet.
You may also like:
- A guide to other fish in pregnancy like mahi-mahi, flounder and monkfish
- A fully updated ultimate guide to tuna in pregnancy, with mercury levels by species
- Seafood safety in pregnancy, such as shrimp, scallops and lobster
This article has been reviewed and approved for publication in line with our editorial policy.