By DR. KAREN LATIMER
My husband has not eaten mayo in thirty years. He still gags when telling the story about the fishing boat, the sandwich with mayo, the hot sun ... you don't need to hear the gory details to figure out what happened next.
It had to be the mayonnaise right? Mayo is creamy with a dairy consistency, it is made of eggs and it turns a funny kind of color when left out too long. It was definitely the culprit ... had to be. While it is easy to see why mayo gets a bad rap from a perishability standpoint, more likely it was the rocking boat, dehydration or something else on his sandwich that made him sick. Mayo is surprisingly long-lived.
Homemade mayonnaise (does anyone actually make this when Hellmann's is so good?) goes bad after about a week in the fridge. The main ingredient is raw egg yolk, which cannot only spoil fairly quickly, but which can harbor salmonella. If you are going to make from scratch, be sure to use only pasteurized, or even better, irradiated eggs.
Industrial mayonnaise, however, contains acid and preservatives giving it a long shelf life, and even helping to kill bacteria in mayo-based salads.
Unopened mayo can be stored at room temperature. Once opened, the jar or tube should be refrigerated immediately. Opened mayo can last about two months in refrigerator temperatures, or until the manufacturer's expiration date.
How do you know if your mayo is bad?
-- The color darkens to a deeper white, yellow or brown color
-- There is a foul or acidic smell
-- There is mold or spores (obviously)
While mayonnaise doesn't go bad easily, many of the foods we mix with mayo do.
-- Look out for cross contamination. Don't "double dip" when you are mixing tuna or egg salad. A little bit of a highly perishable food can ruin the whole jar.
-- Keep your refrigerator below 40 degrees.
-- Refrigerate all salads and sandwiches within two hours in warm weather, within one hour if temps are above 90 degrees.
-- Practice Food Safety when purchasing, prepping, cooking and reheating.
-- When in doubt, throw it out.
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