Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise

baconwrappedchickenkebob

It’s almost summer here in Toronto which means it’s time to revisit warm weather food safety topics such as how to use an instant-read thermometer and how to prevent killing a backyard full of people with one bowl of mayonnaise-cloaked potato salad.

I asked my super clever colleague Amy Snider about the dangers of mayonnaise and, as usual, she taught me something interesting:

“People often assume that it’s the mayonnaise in summer salads that causes food-borne illnesses. However, the true culprits are the protein-based ingredients (such as eggs, tuna, chicken, shrimp, even pasta or cooked vegetables).

Although commercial mayo actually contains enough acid to deter bacterial growth, it encourages foods to cling to one another. The close proximity of the ingredients in these salads can cause any bacteria present to grow and spread throughout the dish quickly. That’s why it’s important to keep all foods going into a mixed salad chilled from shopping to preparation, storage and serving.”

As the cliché goes: Food for thought!

Do you avoid mayonnaise in the summer because of fears of food poisoning?

If not and you’re looking for a new way to enjoy mayo safely in a yummy main course salad, try this recipe inspired by a bacon, tomato & lettuce sandwich that I adapted from a recipe in my last book, Dana’s Top Ten Table:

BLT salad recipe

2 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts,
1/2 cup (125 mL) barbecue sauce
12 slices of bacon
1/4 cup (50 mL) homemade or bought real mayonnaise
2 tbsp (30 mL) milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) very finely chopped fresh chives or green onions
torn Romaine or leafy green lettuce
Sliced grape or other tomatoes

Preheat the grill to medium. Cut the chicken breast into about 32, 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes and toss with the barbecue sauce. Chop each slice of bacon into thirds. Wrap each cube of chicken in a piece of bacon. Thread four bacon-wrapped pieces of chicken onto each skewer.

Lightly grease the grate. Grill the chicken skewers, turning as needed, for 12 to 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the bacon is crisp.

Place skewers over a bed of lettuce and tomatoes and drizzle with mayonnaise mixture.

Makes 4 servings.

Put your food poisoning knowledge to the test with a quiz: test your food safety smarts.

20 Responses to Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise

  1. Natashya says:

    I don’t worry about food poisoning, it has never happened to me that I can remember.
    I am loving that salad though, maybe if other people are afraid of food poisoning there will be more for me!

  2. danamccauley says:

    You know what Natashya, I went to a day after the wedding brunch once where every guest – including the bride and groom – got sick from food that wasn’t appropriately temperature controlled. It was nasty!

  3. Rosa says:

    A gorgeous salad! I am addicted to homemade mayonnaise and have no fears of getting poisoned…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. Andrea says:

    I read somewhere – maybe the Fooducate blog, possibly Slashfood, though Fooducate did do a “10 myths about mayo” feature – that it’s a myth that mayo needs refrigeration. Apparently it’s well preserved.

    (P.S. See you Wednesday.)

  5. I don’t avoid mayonnaise because of fear of food poisoning. I avoid mayonnaise because I simply don’t like it.🙂

    I must admit my food safety is a bit lax. I should take that test, but am afraid I’ll fail.

  6. Hélène says:

    I’m psycho about food safety. I don’t leave food out. Especially in the summer. We will take out the salads with mayo at the last minute and put them back in the fridge right away.

  7. Debbi Dubbs says:

    Homemade mayonnaise doesn’t have the preservatives that commercial mayonnaise does, anything using homemade should be kept cold until the very last minute, whereas commercial mayo has a little ‘hang’ time out of refrigeration. In any case everything should be very cold or very hot.

  8. Dana – do you make your own mayonnaise? I’d love to try but wonder if I should be worried about the eggs. I buy free range eggs from a local farm that i trust…

  9. dorie says:

    I know this is all about food safety, but for me, it’s all about the bacon-wrapped chicken. Great idea for a maincourse salad.

  10. danamccauley says:

    Hey Vicky,

    I do make my own mayo quite often. I make and use it immediately from fresh eggs and I’ve never had an incident with it. And, like Debbi points out above, keep everything cold until just before you serve it.

    To be honest, when I am taking mayo or other creamy foods outside in the summer, I often put the serving bowl inside a larger bowl that contains ice cubes just to keep it chilled as long as possible.

    Dorie, I’m with you. If there’s bacon then it’s bound to taste good!

  11. Daniel says:

    I’m also in the “I hate mayo” club. But making food cling together? I didn’t know that mayo also made food turn co-dependent. Another reason not to eat it. 🙂

    Dan
    Casual Kitchen

  12. […] Dana McCauley’s Food Blog: Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise See? SEE? Mayonnaise is the worst thing in the world. In summer salads, it doesn’t necessarily create bacteria, but it allows for easy transportation of the germs. BOO. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.) […]

  13. […] Dana McCauley’s Food Blog: Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise See? SEE? Mayonnaise is the worst thing in the world. In summer salads, it doesn’t necessarily create bacteria, but it allows for easy transportation of the germs. BOO. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.) […]

  14. […] Dana McCauley’s Food Blog: Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise See? SEE? Mayonnaise is the worst thing in the world. In summer salads, it doesn’t necessarily create bacteria, but it allows for easy transportation of the germs. BOO. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.) […]

  15. […] Dana McCauley’s Food Blog: Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaise See? SEE? Mayonnaise is the worst thing in the world. In summer salads, it doesn’t necessarily create bacteria, but it allows for easy transportation of the germs. BOO. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.) […]

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  19. I actually try to expose myself to a bit of raw meat now and again because I believe it strengthens my immune system.

  20. […] Dana McCauley’s Food Blog: Food poisoning fears and the truth about mayonnaiseSee? SEE? Mayonnaise is the worst thing in the world. In summer salads, it doesn’t necessarily create bacteria, but it allows for easy transportation of the germs. BOO. (Thanks to Casual Kitchen for the link.) […]

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