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Is Mayonnaise a Magnet for Salmonella?

There are bound to be barbecues a plenty this Fourth of July weekend. With this tainted tomato scare, I for one definitely have salmonella on my mind. I typically associate mayo with food poisoning, since people tend to leave this condiment, and the food it's added to, out for long periods of time.

I was relieved to read in the NY Times recently that mayo doesn't really deserve this bad rap. Since most commercialized mayo is made with vinegar or other ingredients that make it acidic, it's actually less likely to spoil. Phew! According to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection, mayo added to foods may even help to prevent food poisoning. The reason mayo may become contaminated is if it's not properly stored, if it's mixed with low-acid foods like seafood or chicken, or if the mayo is homemade.

Fit's Tips: If you plan on hitting a BBQ this weekend (or any other weekend for that matter), be sure the mayo hasn't been left out. Also, check the ingredients. Hellmann's, Best Foods, Miracle Whip, and Kraft all contain vinegar, so they're a better choice than homemade mayo when it comes to spoilage. Steer clear of pasta and potato salads containing mayonnaise that have been left out for more than two hours. If it's above 90° F, then one hour is the limit.


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Yeah, mayo on its own is too acidic to support most bacterial growth. If mayo is out in a jar at your BBQ, don't worry too much about putting it on your food, but you should be careful about deviled eggs, tuna/fish/seafood salads, and most other high protein foods. My grandma's mother, who lived on a farm in Pennsylvania, used to keep mayo in the cupboard (not the fridge) and she never got sick from it. I wouldn't go THAT far, though!
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
thanks for the tip Amp. I didn't know that either and sinc eI am watching calories that's important for me to know...not that i will be at a buffet anytime soon, but next time i know what to avoid!
AMP AMP 9 years
Btw- when I was working at a restaurant that held a big brunch every weekend, I learned that you have to stir mayo into scrambled eggs to keep them from turning grey on a steam table. Therefore, I won't eat eggs at a buffet anymore!
AMP AMP 9 years
Mayo is the most disgusting food ever IMO. Just thinking about it makes me want to gag.
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 9 years
Does Veganaise or Nayonnaise spoil as quickly?
michlny michlny 9 years
But really....why eat mayo at all? Ick.
cravinsugar cravinsugar 9 years
Yep, I learned in a food safety class that it is usually the food paired with the mayo that goes bad...also learned that you can eat food that is spoiled and really not suffer too badly with's food born illness (like salmonella) that you have to be careful over. For example, if you accidentally have sour milk in your coffee, the worst that is going to happen to you is the aftertaste.
Martini-Rossi Martini-Rossi 9 years
Thanks fit! this is great info.
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