Mayonnaise Isn’t a Bacteria Breeding Ground: What really causes food poisoning

by Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E.

With Labor Day and its backyard cookouts around the corner, it’s time to set the record straight. We need to stop picking on mayonnaise. In fact, instead of villainizing mayonnaise, we should be celebrating it. Commercial mayonnaise is made with pasteurized eggs and vinegar. The vinegar makes the spread acidic and therefore an unlikely breeding ground for bacteria. Some research studies have even found that the growth of bacteria in meats has been slowed or stopped in the presence of commercial mayonnaise.

So what’s the likely source of the food borne illness at your picnic? Chances are good that the meats weren’t cooked to proper temperatures, someone prepared food with unclean hands, produce wasn’t washed, there was cross-contamination in the kitchen, foods weren’t kept at proper refrigerator temperature, or they’ve been sitting out too long. On a hot day, keep food on the table no more than one hour.

Enjoy your mayonnaise. If you’re watching your weight, choose a reduced-fat product.

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4 Responses to “Mayonnaise Isn’t a Bacteria Breeding Ground: What really causes food poisoning”

  1. cathy Says:

    Good post! I’ve heard this before, but it’s a myth that everyone wants to believe.

  2. Mark Salinas Says:

    Good information, I have a silly question….what about homemade mayo and/or mayo that becomes diluted while mixing into food i.e potato salad?

    Mark Salinass last blog post..Link Time!

  3. Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D., C.D.E. Says:

    Mark, mayo made with raw eggs is fairly risky. I wouldn’t try it even with the vinegar. Commercial mayonnaise mixed with other foods like ham for ham salad or potatoes for potato salad is just fine. Meats really are a bacteria breeding ground, so be careful with those. Check your “use by” dates and always keep them at proper temperatures.

  4. Becky Anne Says:

    Mayo made with PASTEURIZED raw eggs is fantastic. Davidson’s pasteurized shell eggs are available. They look, cook, and taste like regular eggs but are safe to eat raw, slightly cooked or whatever you plan to do with them. If you fill out the survey on their Web site, they send a bunch of coupons to you.

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