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Pregnant and pate

  1. Pat� is a spreadable and creamy type of meat that is often eaten on bread in the Netherlands. In Belgium, the dish is more often eaten as a meal. Pat� is not always a wise choice for pregnant women. Because of the high liver content and the risk of too high a Listeria contamination, pat� can be dangerous for the unborn child. The advice is therefore to eat a maximum of one portion of pat� per day and preferably to make it yourself.


  1. The meat product pâté originated as a way in which the liver of animals could be processed and made sustainable. Pâté therefore consists mainly of liver, which can come from different kinds of animals.


  1. When preparing pâté, the liver is mixed with fat or bacon and other ingredients, depending on the recipe. This mixture is baked in the oven at a low temperature, causing the fat to float on the pâté. The preservative nitrite is often added to prepacked pates to inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria such as Clostridium Botulinum and to make the product shelf-stable. Pâté is often vacuum or gas packed.


  1. Besides pâté based on meat, pâté based on fish or vegetables is also made. Egg or flour is often added as a binding agent, while in pâté based on meat, the binding comes from the liver that is processed in it. Furthermore, the bacon in the fish or vegetable varieties is often replaced by cream or cream cheese. In most cases, pâté based on fish or vegetables does not contain liver.

Pregnant and pâté

  1. During pregnancy you have to be careful with prepackaged pâté. Pâté can be dangerous for the unborn child for two reasons, namely because of the risk of too high a Listeria contamination and the high vitamin A content in liver pâté. The risks mainly depend on the preparation, the ingredients and the way in which the pâté has been stored. In general, freshly made pâté with no or low liver content is the most sensible choice.


  1. Prepackaged pâté is a sensitive product for the growth of Listeria because of its preparation and its longer shelf life in comparison with other types of meat. This is also evident from microbiological research into pâté. In some cases, pâté contains too many Listeria bacteria, which can make it dangerous for pregnant women. Pregnant women are more susceptible to infections, which makes them more prone to listeriosis. Listeriosis in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth. This applies to pâté made from meat, but also pâté made from fish or vegetables. The danger does not apply to pâté that has been heated to at least 75 degrees before use. The Listeria bacteria cannot withstand heating.

Vitamin A

  1. A second reason why eating pâté can be dangerous for pregnant women is the high vitamin A content. Liver naturally contains a very high amount of vitamin A. Too high an intake of vitamin A can cause problems during pregnancy. The main ingredient of pate is liver. Depending on the recipe, pâté contains about 70 percent liver. As a result, the vitamin A content in one hundred grams of pâté is on average about 7400 micrograms. This is more than in other meat products that contain liver, such as liver sausage or liver cheese. In addition to liver pâté, some types of fish can also contain a high vitamin A content, but these are not harmful amounts. However, vegetables do not contain vitamin A, but beta-carotene, which is converted in the body into vitamin A. Beta-carotene does not have the same harmful effect as vitamin A from meat products, so vegetable pâté cannot cause an overdose of vitamin A during pregnancy.


  1. Too much vitamin A during pregnancy increases the risk of birth defects. Some examples are cleft palate or heart defects. The pregnant woman herself can also develop complaints such as fatigue, nausea, skin disorders or hair loss due to an overdose of vitamin A.

Recommended amount

  1. The maximum recommended amount of vitamin A for pregnant women is 3000 micrograms per day. This means that a portion of pate of about 20 grams is harmless. But for pregnant women, it is not wise to eat larger amounts or to eat multiple servings of liver-containing products in one day. It is important not to limit the intake of vitamin A too much. Vitamin A is of great importance for the proper growth of the fetus. The recommended daily amount of vitamin A is therefore also increased during pregnancy from 800 to 1000 micrograms per day.

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