Eggnog made with booze kills salmonella bacteria

Washington: Classic holiday drink eggnog doesn’t bring about a spike in salmonella cases, say experts.

“Actually, it happens very, very, very, very infrequently. We do not record an increase in salmonellosis due to eggnog. Otherwise, there would be a CDC health advisory,” ABC News quoted Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn, as saying.

Unlike raw chicken, store-bought eggs rarely have salmonella on their shells because they are cleaned before they`re packaged, Schaffner said.

On the rare occasion that the salmonella bacteria enters an egg, it``s likely one of the 800 salmonella species that needs to be present in large quantities to make someone sick.

On the other hand, up to 20 percent of store-bought chicken contains salmonella, and they have a lot more diarrhea-causing bacteria than eggs do, Schaffner said.

Rockefeller University’s Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology has been making a raw-eggs-and-alcohol eggnog for at least 60 years. It calls for leaving the egg, sugar, cream, spices and alcohol mixture in the fridge for about six weeks.

“I`ve been here almost 50 years, and we`ve made it every year. We usually make it about a week or so before Thanksgiving, sip it to cheer Thanksgiving, and finish it at the Christmas party,” said professor and lab head Vincent Fischetti.

The recipe comes from Dr. Rebecca Lancefield, a microbiologist who was born in 1895.

Although the original recipe calls for leaving the mixture in the refrigerator at least overnight, it says it will be “better” after three or four weeks.

Fischetti said the added time makes it smoother.

A few years ago, Fischetti`s lab made an extra batch – for the sake of science – spiked with an extra ingredient: salmonella. Within the first five days of sitting in the cold with the alcohol, the batch still tested positive for salmonella, but it was sterile not long after, Fischetti said.

They even tried to culture the aged eggnog on a petri dish, but no bacteria would grow on it.

“There`s enough alcohol in there to kill a horse. It`s a standard recipe. We`re not spiking it any more than it should be,” he said.