Rockefeller microbiologist tests safety of spiked eggnog

December 22, 2008,

(PhysOrg.com) -- With one in every 20,000 eggs contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, drinking homemade eggnog can be something of a gamble. But an experiment designed to test whether the alcohol in spiked eggnog can kill the deadly bugs suggests that, in general, few bacteria survive in a mixture containing both raw eggs and 20 percent rum and bourbon.

The experiment, which was done by Rockefeller University professor Vincent A. Fischetti at the request of National Public Radio’s Science Friday program, compared the bacteria found in homemade alcoholic eggnog with those found in store-bought nonalcoholic nog. After culturing samples of both solutions and incubating them for 24 hours at 37 degrees Celsius — body temperature — Fischetti and his colleagues found that while the store-bought product was teeming with a range of bacteria, the homemade version was completely sterile.

“The bacteria we observed in the grocery-store product are likely harmless normal bacteria that are found in all dairy products,” says Fischetti, who is head of the Laboratory of Bacterial Pathogenesis and Immunology. “In fact, they were probably in the cream and other products we used when we made our eggnog but were killed by the alcohol.”

When the scientists performed the same experiment but added a heavy dose of Salmonella bacteria, the results were inconclusive. “In our 24-hour time frame, the alcohol in the eggnog did not kill all the bacteria, but we used 1,000 times more Salmonella than what you might encounter in a contaminated egg,” Fischetti says.

“In order to authoritatively say that spiked eggnog is either safe or unsafe, we’d have to repeat the experiment under a range of more realistic conditions,” he says. “We’d probably need a grant.”

Provided by Rockefeller University

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

February 20, 2018

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace ...

Lyman-alpha emission detected around quasar J1605-0112

February 20, 2018

Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument astronomers have discovered an extended and broad Lyman-alpha emission in the form of a nebula around the quasar J1605-0112. The finding is reported February 9 ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.