Make Mine Mayonnaise!: The Goodness of Mayonnaise

The healthy scoop on mayonnaise

With so many varieties of mayonnaise available, including light and fat-free, this health-friendly condiment can be part of a well-balanced diet, meeting anyone’s dietary needs. Mayonnaise is made with healthy oils such as soybean and canola. These oils are a natural source of alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega-3 fatty acid. In addition to important fatty acids, these oils are also a major source of our daily intake of vitamin E. Further, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans includes an allowance for oils because of the essential nutrients they provide. And, did you know that mayonnaise does not contain trans fat per labeled serving? Read the label of your favorite mayonnaise to see what healthy oils they contain.

Commercial mayonnaise is also one of the safest products you can bring to your next picnic or event. You may have heard some of the fallacies about this versatile condiment, such as mayonnaise should never be left on the counter or used in picnic foods , but these are common misconceptions that are just not true.

It's a fact. More than 60 years of research has proven that commercially prepared mayonnaise does not cause foodborne illness. In fact, these commercial products are carefully prepared with ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice and salt to create an unfriendly environment that slows and even inhibits the growth of bacteria and, indeed, can kill it. Commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type salad dressings also contain pasteurized eggs that have been heat treated to destroy harmful bacteria and ensure product safety, so you can be sure about inviting mayonnaise to your next picnic or gathering.

Read on to learn more and Make Mine Mayonnaise!

Some Q&A's...

Q. I have heard that mayonnaise can cause foodborne illness. Is this true?

A. No. Commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type dressings are carefully prepared under strict quality controls. These commercial products contain pasteurized eggs that are free of Salmonella and other dangerous bacteria. Additional ingredients such as vinegar and lemon juice create a high-acid environment that slows, even stops, bacterial growth. Salt is also an important ingredient in commercial mayonnaise that contributes to the unfavorable environment for bacteria.

Q. What happens if I leave mayonnaise unrefrigerated for a long period of time?

A. From a food safety standpoint, commercial mayonnaise and mayonnaise-type dressings are perfectly stable when stored at room temperature after opening. Quality (e.g., flavor, taste, aroma), not safety, is the only reason the labels on these products suggest that they be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration ensures that the commercial mayonnaise keeps its fresh flavor for a longer period of time. Please review the product's label for more information on storage and shelf life.

Q. If mayonnaise isn't a food safety problem, what is?

A. Unsanitary handling and preparation of foods in home kitchens and foodservice operations pose the greatest threat of bacterial contamination of food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, foodborne illness cases are often traced back to: raw foods that are mishandled or contaminate other foods; undercooked meat, poultry or eggs; and, unsanitary kitchen habits and poor storage temperatures. Many of the foods typically used with mayonnaise, such as chicken, ham or potatoes, are much more susceptible to bacterial growth than the mayonnaise itself. When preparing these foods, follow proper procedures for handling and storage.

“Mayonnaise is not the culprit in foodborne illness. The culprits are foods that are not prepared, served or stored properly.”
American Dietetic Association

Q. Where did the “mayo myth” begin?

A. Many years ago, it was not unusual for dressings, mayonnaise in particular, to be prepared from scratch. When making mayonnaise, home cooks used unpasteurized eggs, which scientists now know can sometimes be contaminated by Salmonella bacteria. Also, homemade mayonnaise, unlike commercial products, may not contain enough salt and vinegar to counteract the growth of harmful bacteria. The introduction and advancement of commercial mayonnaise has given American consumers access to a variety of good tasting, safe products.

Q. How can I make sure the foods I serve at a cookout are safe?

A. Remember these simple rules from The Association for Dressings and Sauces and the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

  • Avoid Cross-Contamination. Wash hands, utensils and other food contact surfaces after contact with raw meat or poultry. Make sure all salad and sandwich ingredients are fresh and properly washed.
  • Practice Cleanliness. If soap and water are unavailable, take along disposable, wet handwipes or a hand sanitizer to clean hands before and after working with food.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep all perishables in a cooler with ice or freeze-pack inserts until serving time. Make sure that food is cold or frozen to the touch before placing it in the cooler or cold thermos. Use a thermos designed for hot foods to keep soup, chili and stews at a safe temperature for several hours. Refrigerate leftover foods promptly.
  • Don't hold the mayo! Today's commercial mayonnaise products are made with pasteurized eggs, healthy oils and the right blend of vinegar and salt to impart good flavor and fight bacterial growth. So not only can busy consumers enjoy the good taste and convenience of commercial mayonnaise, they can do so with the assurance that these products have been manufactured under the strictest requirements that meet and exceed today's food safety standards.

Here's what the experts say about mayonnaise:

“Commercial mayonnaise is among the safest of foods when properly handled. Most harmful bacteria die off within hours in the presence of mayonnaise, largely due to its high acidity.”
Michael P. Doyle, Ph.D., Professor and Director, University of Georgia, Center for Food Safety

“Commercial mayonnaise and other commercial dressings are prepared under strict quality controls, and acidulents and salt are added that prevent the growth of food-poisoning bacteria. In fact, hazardous bacteria die off if placed in the commercially prepared product.”
Douglas L. Archer, Ph.D., Chair, University of Florida, Department of Food and Science Nutrition, former Acting Deputy Director, FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

“Contrary to popular opinion, mayonnaise and salad dressing when added to salads or sandwiches will not increase spoilage or public health hazards…”
Richard B. Smittle, Ph.D., “Microbiology of Mayonnaise and Salad Dressing: A Review,” Journal of Food Protection

Who is The Association for Dressings & Sauces?

The Association for Dressings & Sauces (ADS) is an international association of salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard and other condiment manufacturers and their suppliers. The ADS Web site,, contains information and tips on mayonnaise and other condiments, links to government agencies providing food safety information and health-related research associated with industry products.

For more information on dressings and sauces, contact us:
The Association for Dressings & Sauces


8 ounces elbow macaroni (about 1-3/4 cups)
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. vinegar
1 Tbsp. creamy Dijon mustard
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped onion

Cook macaroni according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water until completely cool.

In large bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir in macaroni, celery, green pepper and onion. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 5