Forbidden foods

Does anyone have chapter and verse (or failing that some ideas) about what we can't eat while on Humira?

I gather that un-pasteurised dairy products are definitely out because Humira and possibly other biologics greatly(?) reduce immunity to Listeria. And pate too according to the leaflet that comes with the drug (I don't really understand why that is, though). But what about goats cheese ...... I've got a question mark in my mind about that too but not sure where I got it from. I don't think it is un-pasteurised, usually.

Anyway, I ate a toasted goats cheese thing in a cafe today. I thought the toasting would make it okay but possibly it wasn't toasted enough. Am I going to be toast? Probably not! But I'd like to get to the bottom of all this.

25 Replies

  • I was on cimzia for about 6 months and then when I switched to humira, they told me that I should have been avoiding unpasteurised dairy and worst of sushi! I have ignored this advice and I am still alive to tell the tale. ;)

  • Thank you crashdoll! Most reassuring.

    You evil person though .... I've never had sushi and now I'm tempted!

  • You've never had sushi?!! Do you live anywhere near London? I know the best restaurant!

  • I go to London fairly often - son lives there. And he loves sushi so may know it. Perhaps we're not meant to advertise restaurants here so could you message me with the name please? Then if he hasn't heard of it I can impress him!

  • (This is dreadful LOL. Next I'll be asking for names of great unpasteurised cheese restaurants).


    Lovely and decently priced too.

    The fish is very, very fresh which I think it important. I went to one of those all-you-can-eat sushi places and the fish was slightly warm, obviously not fresh. I had an upset tummy afterwards and will now only eat really good quality sushi from decent restaurants.

  • Thank you so much!

  • Most commercial goat cheese is pasteurised, so don't worry unduly about suddenly turning into toast. After all even if it was unpasteurised it's not 100% that it would be contaminated. Like many of these things it also depends how healthy you are overall as to whether an infection would run riot because your immune system is a bit compromised, or whether you'd just have a mild response.

    And it also depends on your attitude to risk & quality of life. Personally having to avoid foods I love would be a misery, but I'm only on traditional DMARDS which have a lesser effect so although they say I should be careful I've never bothered. I'm sensible, so for example don't eat raw egg mayonnaise from a dodgy looking cafe where it's been sitting out for hours? And I take care over food hygiene. general hygiene is just as important too, so washing hands properly, making sure scrapes and grazes are clean and so on.

  • Thanks for that helixhelix. I guess I'll survive then as I am not prone to infections at all. I survived Marrakech last year. I realise perfectly safe food can come out of the humblest of kitchens, but I think that's a challenge in the massively overcrowded old town.

    I am more hygienic than I used to be. Though food hygiene in the kitchen was always one of my few domestic strongpoints.

    Have just acquired a lively little old dog and she is not hygienic. I don't let her lick my face and I wash my hands that bit more than I used to. But like you say - it's about quality of life & she's improved ours!

    One thing I am not into is antiseptic sprays etc. My idea of cleanliness is more traditional.

  • I always reckon street food is usually ok as cooked hot and served instantly. It's the mid-range cafés that worry me more as food sits around for too long.

    I'm sure I read somewhere that being too clean isn't good for you either. When I got RA and started on the drugs I read the warnings and I bought a can of disinfectant spray. Well, five years later it's still sitting in the cupboard, untouched. And as for banning my dog - no way! (Although if there was a magic way to vanish all the dog hair that would be fine)

  • Yep, it was the middle range places I wondered about - those that were really chucking it out for the tourists. But I seem to have a cast iron stomach anyway.

    It's not a good idea apparently to blitz all bacteria willy nilly. On the skin some are protective. And in the gut too. Just not 'natural' to treat our homes like operating theatres (though 'natural' can be a dangerous word .... so I'll shut up!)

  • I agree with the quality of life comments.

    I went to Sharm El Sheikh in Eygpt last year which is notorious for stomach bugs and apart from a very small tummy incident which immediately ceased with a tablet, I was fine. I think it was too much sun to be honest.

    Life goes on. I am careful but not overly restrictive.

  • I reckon living with RA is hard enough without the pleasure of a really runny cheese! But that's just my opinion! I agree with above, good food hygiene is far more important. Live your life, and if you want a big slab of pate, have it!!!

  • I kind of agree, but I still have that element of caution. Wish I'd kept the link I looked at about what listeria can do. Cannot stand meat pate so no worries there except I do like mackerel pate ..... thanks for the encouragement though. I'll get back with any hard info. I can find.

  • When I was on Hurmia the only thing I was told to avoid was food poisoning! The same for all biologics do to lower immune system, so I just carry a pot of hand cleaner with me and enjoy my dinner. I have had bad food poisoning from a takeaway many years ago before ra, I was pregnant at the time and ended up in hospital for a month, but if I worried about it happening again I would be one miserable person.

  • Makes me think I should not worry, never having had food poisoning ever!

  • Hi, the one I can see missing, although it is probably here somewhere is Mayonnaise, made with fresh eggs, it's in all the major supermarket brands. I have found one from Farm foods which is made from powdered eggs which is ok to have.

    Can't think of anything else.

    Oh cake mix which I love is off of the cards too, due to the raw eggs. Damm I love that stuff!

    Good luck with it, it's a challenge sometimes to stay healthy!


  • Shop bought mayonnaise that is not in the chilled section is fine as made with pasteurised eggs. It's only the fresh mayonnaise made with raw egg yolk that pregnant mums have to avoid (and us if you want to err on cautious side).

  • Thanks for the quick response

    I think different professionals have been told different things.

    The nurse that delivered my first course of injections, said that I should avoid all Mayo even the stuff in the jars as it is made from fresh eggs and just to stick with the mayo made with powdered eggs (so confusing), I do like mayo but I don't eat too much of it, but I think I will check with the help line just to be sure!

    Thanks again.


  • Oh blimey ..... wish them professionals would agree! Actually, checking with helpline is a great idea, I'll do that too.

  • Ditto, makes things very confusing!

  • Strange, not sure how you'd make a mayo that had the long shelf life of the main brands without it being pasteurised. And I certainly don't avoid foods with fresh eggs, like omelettes and so on, but am just a bit cautious over the quality of foods with raw eggs. But we each have to follow our own noses/rheumy nurses so as always it's best to do so, and ignore mad risk takers like me! And listeria is no fun at all.

  • The Crohn's and Colitis UK site simply has this to say:

    "Take care with food hygiene and avoid eating raw eggs or undercooked meat and poultry. You may be more open to the type of infections caused by bacteria such as listeria when being treated with adalimumab".

    So not even a mention of un-pasteurised cheese there.

    (I'm still searching)

  • Hi :) I am on Enbrel injections. I was told by Rheumy team to avoid unpasturised foods, and in particular, pates, raw eggs, and blue cheeses and mayonaise made with raw eggs( but to check the label). Also that tomato ketchup can be a problem.

    Told to cremate meats and be especially careful with chicken and fish and to stick to 'hard' cheeses'. There was some confusion about live yoghurts though. (I still have my yoghurts anyway, don't like blue cheeses, am not a fishy fan and have always been careful with chicken.) So it really doesn't interfere with my eating habits too much.

    Be as well as you can everyone. :)

  • Wow! You win the prize for the most extensive 'forbidden list' so far!

    I am glad there was some confusion about live yogurts because I reckon plain live yogurt is very good for gut health & I'm not giving that up without a fight!

    I feel much the same about tomato ketchup though can't claim any health benefits for that.

    There is clearly quite a lot of variation in the advice we're given, to put it mildly. Though raw eggs and un-pasteurised dairy products are getting a lot of hits.

    I still haven't phoned the Humira helpline, though it's on my 'to do' list.

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