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Drinking Eggnog May Not Be as Safe as You Think

Navigating the Nog: Unraveling the Risks of the Yuletide Classic


As the holiday season rolls around, so does the familiar, creamy embrace of eggnog, a festive elixir that has been delighting taste buds since the early 1800s. This Christmasy concoction, ranging from thick and custardy to icy and spoonable, has become a staple at holiday gatherings, dinners, and festivals. But, hold on to your Santa hats, because drinking eggnog may not be as safe as you think.


Eggnog

Despite its long and merry history, eggnog harbors a hidden danger – raw eggs. Yes, those unassuming little ovals that lend the drink its luscious texture can also bring along a not-so-jolly companion: Salmonella. Lee Cotton, RDN LPN, warns us that consuming eggnog made with raw, unpasteurized eggs can lead to a bout of food poisoning, an unwelcome guest at any holiday celebration.


Now, before you start reevaluating your holiday beverage choices, here's the scoop: Americans guzzle down approximately 60 million quarts of eggnog each year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). That's a staggering amount of holiday cheer in liquid form! But with the popularity of eggnog comes common concerns about raw eggs, especially given their association with food poisoning. Yikes indeed.


Enter the good news: Most commercially available eggnog is pasteurized, which means it undergoes a process that kills off those pesky bacteria, providing a safety net for your festive indulgence. Cotton suggests double-checking the carton or bottle to ensure the magic word "pasteurized" is proudly displayed.


But what if you're the hostess-with-the-mostest who dreams of concocting a homemade batch of this liquid ambrosia? Fear not! Cotton advises using pasteurized liquid eggs or pasteurized liquid egg whites, conveniently found in cartons at your local grocery store. This way, you can whip up your own bowl of joy without the worry of unwelcome bacterial guests crashing the party.


Eggnog

Now, let's talk about the elephant in the room – alcohol. Eggnog and alcohol go together like Santa and chimneys, but there's a catch. While adding spirits to your eggnog can inhibit bacterial growth, it's not a foolproof method for eradicating them entirely. The University of Minnesota Extension warns that eggs must be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to eliminate the risk of Salmonella. Alcohol, though helpful, can't be relied upon to do the job completely.


Here's the silver lining: If you opt for pasteurized eggs, you're in the clear. No need for further cooking, and you can even safely fold raw, beaten egg whites into your eggnog creation. The extension office at the University of Minnesota emphasizes that it hasn't been proven that raw egg whites from pasteurized eggs carry the Salmonella risk.


In conclusion, as you sip your eggnog this holiday season, rest easy knowing that pasteurized eggs are your best allies in this festive venture. The only regret you might have the next day is that extra glass you enjoyed a bit too much. So, raise your cup, toast to holiday merriment, and revel in the safe and delightful embrace of this timeless Yuletide classic. Cheers to a nog-tastic celebration!

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