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Is That Mousse Safe to Eat?

Published on December 4, 1997

PULLMAN, Wash. — Some recipes for popular holiday foods put people at risk of food-borne illnesses.

Val Hillers, Washington State University extension food safety specialist, says they include home-made eggnog, meringue and the egg white “glue” used to hold gingerbread houses together and some mousse recipes.

If your recipes for these products use raw eggs, Hillers recommends modifications to the recipe because raw eggs occasionally contain Salmonella bacteria, which can lay healthy people low and is even more serious for the very young, the very old and people weakened by chronic illnesses.

Hillers says safe home-made eggnog recipes involve heating the eggs, sugar and milk to 160 degrees F, or using a pasteurized egg product instead of raw eggs. Commercial eggnog is made with pasteurized eggs.

Meringue made with raw eggs is safe if baked at 350 F until the tips are brown. This takes 12-15 minutes.

Powdered egg whites should be used to “glue” gingerbead houses together if the gingerbread house will be eaten.

Mousse recipes that use raw eggs should be modified by heating the milk, eggs and sugar to 160 degrees F.

Hillers recommends any recipe calling for raw eggs should be modified to either heat the eggs or to substitute a modified egg product. If your recipe can’t be modified, Hillers advises finding a substitute recipe.

The American Egg Board has developed safe recipes for many of the holiday dishes that traditionally use raw eggs. For information on holiday recipes that avoid raw eggs, consult the Holiday Recipes section of the American Egg Board’s Incredible Edible Egg World Wide Web site. You will find it at:

Food safety information also is available from Washington State University Cooperative Extension offices located in every county, and from WSU’s Food Safety Resources page on the World Wide Web. You will find it at:

If you don’t have access to the World Wide Web from your home, you likely can get access at your local library.

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