Bad Egg Nog? You're Not Alone

Holiday parties and family gatherings should be safe as well as fun, and one more warning about seasonal hazards should be mentioned: Egg nog causes many Salmonella cases when its creators use raw or undercooked eggs, Food Technologist Nancy Bufano of the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition notes in a blog post.

She advised beginning with a cooked egg base, especially if those who will drink the egg nog are at high risk for foodborne infections (young children, pregnant women, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems). To make a cooked egg base:

1. Combine eggs and half the milk as indicated in the recipe. (Other ingredients, such as sugar may be added at this step.)

2. Cook the mixture gently to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, stirring constantly. The cooking will destroy Salmonella if it is present. (At this temperature, Bufano notes, the mixture will firmly coat a metal spoon, but she says do not lick the spoon if the custard is not fully cooked.)

3. After cooking, chill the mixture before adding the rest of the milk and other ingredients.

"Some people think that adding rum, whiskey, or other alcohol to the recipe will make the eggnog safe," she adds. "But, if contaminated unpasteurized eggs are used in eggnog, you can't count on the alcohol in the drink to kill all of the bacteria -– that's not likely to happen." Bufano says egg substitute products and pasteurized eggs are also safe alternatives for egg nog.

Posted by Jerry Laws on Dec 27, 2010

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