Is it time to update your eggnog recipes to avoid the risk of foodborne illness? Refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells can still be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Eggs must be cooked to 160 degrees F to kill bacteria such as Salmonella that may be present. If your eggnog recipe calls for raw eggs, it may not be safe. Adding alcohol inhibits bacterial growth, but it cannot be relied upon to kill bacteria.
Use pasteurized eggs for eggnog
Eggnog may be safely made at home by using whole, liquid or pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs are found next to regular eggs at the store. Egg substitutes can also be used. These products have also been pasteurized. Using a pasteurized product means that no further cooking is necessary.
Cook regular egg mixture to 160 F
If using regular eggs that have not been pasteurized use a recipe in which you cook the egg mixture to 160 F. At 160, the egg mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon. Follow the recipe carefully. Refrigerate it at once. When refrigerating a large amount of cooked eggnog, divide it into several shallow containers. Then it will cool quickly.
If eggs whites are needed, use pasteurized eggs
If a recipe calls for folding raw, beaten egg whites into the eggnog, use pasteurized eggs. It has not been proven that raw egg whites are free of Salmonella bacteria.
If you purchase eggnog from your local grocery store, the eggnog has been prepared with pasteurized eggs. You do not need to cook it.
Who's at risk?
Salmonella and the resulting foodborne illness can affect anyone but its especially risky for some people. This includes senior citizens, pregnant women and very young children. People with weakened immune systems who suffer from chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, liver disease and AIDS are also at risk. So be particularly careful when serving eggnog to those individuals.
Holidays are a fun but hectic time. By updating your eggnog recipes for safety, you'll have one less thing to worry about.
- USDA. Consumer Food Safety Fact Sheets.
- Utah State University, Food Safety Bulletin, No. 4 (2006). Safe eggnog requires pasteurized eggs (with recipe).
Reviewed in 2018