Whether you love it or hate it, it’s hard to deny that drinking eggnog is a little bit weird. This holiday mixture doesn’t seem to trigger any salmonella fears. So, why are we allowed gulp down this sweet, eggy elixir?
The answer is that most store-bought eggnog actually contains cooked eggs — although not in the sense of being scrambled or fried. The pasteurization process heat-treats the mixture so that potentially harmful microorganisms (such as salmonella) are killed or reduced.
Although alcohol can kill some of the pathogens that can be present in raw eggs, it takes a whole lot of booze to get rid of them all. Researchers at North Carolina State University even did a study on the antimicrobial effects of wine to figure this out. Their results show that the ethanol in alcohol isn’t enough to kill bacteria on its own.
If you prefer eggnog that’s DIY, there are plenty of recipes out there to try — some with and some without an egg-cooking step. Just remember to cook even pasteurized egg bases when you make the drink yourself. Wherever it originates, be sure to get your nog on safely.