Is Qdoba safe to eat when pregnant? (main risks)

In this article, we will discuss whether it is safe to eat Qdoba when pregnant, what are the safety practices followed by Qdoba, what are the risks of eating Qdoba when pregnant and if Qdoba is healthy when pregnant.

Qdoba is a Mexican fast-food restaurant that originated in Denver, Colorado, in the United States. The franchising restaurant serves food prepared with fresh ingredients and grilled meat.

Is Qdoba safe to eat when pregnant?

Yes, Qdoba is safe to eat when pregnant. Qdoba prepares food by following controlled safety practices, training employees and regularly making inspections to ensure the cleanliness of the restaurant and the quality of the food served (1).

In addition, Qdoba avoids the use of food additives in its dishes, such as monosodium glutamate, preservatives, such as calcium sorbate and partially hydrogenised vegetable oil, unless they are part of the ingredient´s composition (2).

What are the safety practices followed by Qdoba?

The safety practices followed by Qdoba are regulated by the HACCP, or Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, which is a safety control tool to manage food handling (1).

The control tool regulates all the critical points of food handling, preparation, cooking and serving, to reduce the risks of foodborne outbreaks. Some examples are (1):

  • Proper heating and cooling of the food
  • Checking the cooking temperature
  • Checking the temperature of food storage
  • Documenting each food item during all the production steps
  • Tracking raw materials and their ordering process

In addition, the stores are cleaned daily and the personnel is trained according to their function. They use cooking and cooling equipment that efficiently cooks the food without compromising its quality.

When I go to a restaurant, the first thing I notice is the floor, the cleanliness of the place and how the employees handle food. Clean clothes and hats on the head are also a sign of good food safety practices.

What are the risks of eating Qdoba when pregnant?

The risks of eating Qdoba when pregnant are similar to eating at any fast food restaurant, that is a foodborne disease due to the ingestion of contaminated food. The risk can vary according to the food item ingested, as given in the table below (3, 4, 5, 6):

Risk Food item Microorganism related Consequence/ symptoms

Foodborne infection

caused by the ingestion of food contaminated by bacteria, viruses or parasites

Uncooked vegetables 


Fresh cheese

Listeria monocytogenes diarrhoea, fever, muscle pain. It can lead to meningitis, blood infection, miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth
Norovirus vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, headache
Toxoplasma gondii (parasite) fever, muscle pain, premature birth, damage to the baby´s eye or brain



Campylobacter jejuni stomach cramps, fever, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stillbirth, premature birth
Escherichia coli
diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, stomach cramps

Foodborne poisoning

Caused by the ingestion of toxins produced by fungi and bacteria





fungi, such as Aspergillus and Penicillium vomiting, headache, liver and kidney damage and cancer 
Raw and cooked food contaminated by cross-contamination Escherichia coli



The ingestion of toxins produced by bacteria leads to symptoms such as bloody or watery diarrhoea, vomiting and kidney failure

Is Qdoba queso safe to eat when pregnant?

Yes, Qdoba queso is safe to eat when pregnant. Qdoba serves signature queso options that are “clean label”, according to their website (2).

In addition, cheese produced and commercialised in the United States must be made with pasteurised milk, as regulated by the current Food Legislation and importing fresh cheese made from unpasteurised milk is illegal in the country (3).

However, as with any other food item, queso is susceptible to being contaminated by improper handling and cross-contamination (3).

Is eating Qdoba healthy when pregnant?

Yes, eating Qdoba can be healthy when pregnant, when not overconsumed and when options containing healthy ingredients are included, such as vegetables and lean meats. Avoided should be soft drinks and processed meats. 

Fast food is generally related to food items with high saturated fats, high sodium and refined sugars, in addition to an overload of calories.

Eating food with these characteristics is not healthy during pregnancy and can lead to an overweight of the baby, and a higher risk of obesity in the childhood and adolescence (7).

However, Mexican food is considered healthy during pregnancy, as it includes vegetables and fruits, beans and dairy products (8). 


In this article, we discussed whether it is safe to eat Qdoba when pregnant, what are the risks of eating Qdoba when pregnant, and if eating Qdoba is healthy when pregnant.

Qdoba can be a good option when pregnant, but I preferred a less spicy food when I was pregnant.

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Singal M, Mailem L. Qdoba Mexican Grill and Virginia Tech: A Case Study of a Strategic Partnership. International CHRIE; 2014.

2.- [cited 2023 Nov 3]. Available from:


Gould LH, Mungai E, Barton Behravesh C. Outbreaks attributed to cheese: differences between outbreaks caused by unpasteurized and pasteurized dairy products, United States, 1998–2011. Foodborne pathogens and disease. 2014 Jul 1;11(7):545-51.


Dean J, Kendall P. Food safety during pregnancy. Food and nutrition series. Food safety; no. 9.372. 2004.


Switaj TL, Winter KJ, Christensen SR. Diagnosis and management of foodborne illness. American family physician. 2015 Sep 1;92(5):358-65.


Gallo M, Ferrara L, Calogero A, Montesano D, Naviglio D. Relationships between food and diseases: What to know to ensure food safety. Food Research International. 2020 Nov 1;137:109414.


Hopkins AL, Yeoman M, Ritenbaugh C. Healthy foods prepared at home: Diet and support as protective strategies during pregnancy for Hispanic women. Ecology of food and nutrition. 2018 Mar 4;57(2):140-61.