Sunday, December 2, 2007

'Tis The Season To Drink Eggnog

With the holiday party season fast approaching, my husband suggested that it was time for me to talk about eggnog - especially the home-made variety.

Out of curiosity, I "Googled" eggnog. This produced 162,000 hits. Limiting the search to "eggnog recipes" cut the list to 94,900. One of the first sites I looked at from this list was Martha Stewart's. To my dismay, her eggnog recipe uses raw eggs and makes absolutely no mention of the risk of Salmonella contamination. Given Martha Stewart's high profile, I wish she would have included a cautionary message or - even better - offered a recipe for eggnog that included a cooking step.

Sadly, Martha wasn't alone. The National Public Radio website's eggnog recipe was equally remiss, as were 80% of the sites that offered a recipe for home-made eggnog. Only 20% (19,100) of the sites offering eggnog recipes (I searched for "eggnog recipe cooked") provided a recipe for eggnog that included a cooking step. The American Egg Board was one site that offered a tasty-sounding recipe, but there were also many others to choose from.

According to USDA estimates, approximately 1 egg in 20,000 contains Salmonella enteritidis, a strain of Salmonella that has created a niche for itself in laying hens. Infected eggs appear completely normal; the shells have no apparent cracks or defects, and the yolk and white look completely normal. There is no reliable way to detect a contaminated egg. The proportion of eggs containing Salmonella varies from country to country, but the problem is widespread. For safety's sake, handle raw shell eggs in the kitchen just as carefully as raw poultry or other raw meats. And use pasteurized shell eggs in recipes such as Caesar salad, hollandaise dressings, and other dishes that do not include a cooking step.

So, enjoy your home-made eggnog this holiday season, but please make sure that Salmonella isn't one of the ingredients in the recipe.


  1. Perhaps, Martha Stewart needs to discover that pasteurized shell eggs will produce an equally tasty eggnog (which avoids the Salmonella risk).

  2. I have a website on InDepthInfo that has an egg-less eggnog recipe and points out the risks of salmanella. All About Eggnog. Thanks for all you do Phyllis!

  3. I only have eggnog once every other year or so, so this Christmas I will take my 1 in 20,000 chance and just use raw eggs.

  4. Not really as big of a deal as you think. Wash your eggs (the shells) if you're worried. People have used raw eggs for many years and never got sick. I eat raw cookie dough often, always have - love egg nog, chocolate silk pie - all with uncooked eggs.

  5. Nothing like fear-mongering to lighten the holiday spirit! ;)

    Actually I would never dream of raw eggs from factory chickens. Those are unhealthy and very dangerous.

    But organic, free-range chickens have never shown a prove a case of salmonella, especially if they are raised in your own yard.


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