More Evidence That Eggnog Goes Better With Booze It's a question that many people have on their minds this season: Does spiking the homemade eggnog safeguard it against salmonella? Eggnog expert and microbiologist Vince Fischetti of The Rockefeller University in New York runs some tests to find out.

More Evidence That Eggnog Goes Better With Booze

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


Now it's time for Flora's Video Pick of the Week. Flora Lichtman, our video producer, is here. Hi, Flora. What have we got this week? Something holiday?

FLORA LICHTMAN: Yes, we have a video that addresses a question that I think is on a lot of people's minds this holiday season. It's very serious. And that question is, if I add alcohol to my eggnog, am I safe from getting salmonella?

FLATOW: Eggnog.

LICHTMAN: Yes. So, does the alcohol in the eggnog kill bacteria? And we scoured the scientific literature and, believe it or not, there had not been studies done on this yet.

FLATOW: We created our own science.

LICHTMAN: But we found someone who would do the experiment with us. Dr. Vince Fischetti is a microbiologist at Rockefeller University and he agreed to do this sort of wacky experiment. And even better, he is an eggnog kind of expert himself.

FLATOW: Aficionado.

LICHTMAN: Yes. So, there's this, you know…

FLATOW: And so he created this whole batch of eggnog for you.

LICHTMAN: Well, he - they create it every year. It's a tradition in the department to make this vat of eggnog with raw eggs and then he tested it for bacteria and he compared it to commercial stuff, too.

FLATOW: And so he found out whether if you spike the eggnog, it kills the germs or not.

LICHTMAN: Yes. He has some preliminary results.

FLATOW: Yes, of course.

LICHTMAN: But we shouldn't give them away.

FLATOW: No, I'm not going to give it away. But he did say that more testing was needed. They always do this when they're working with alcohol in these laboratories.

LICHTMAN: Right. He mentioned something about a grant.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: So, if you go to, you go to our Web site, and you can see Flora took her video cameras out there and interviewed the great doctor and his laboratory. And you watch the whole experiment go on.

LICHTMAN: You watch the whole experiment and you might be surprised what lives in the eggnog off the shelves. That's all I'll say.

FLATOW: Oh, yeah. So, he cultured, right? He cultured what was in the eggnog that you buy off the shelves.


FLATOW: And you look at that petri dish.

(Soundbite of laughter)

LICHTMAN: You might turn to raw eggs after all.

FLATOW: You might want to make your own version of it.


FLATOW: But then, you know, he then - we discovered, quote, unquote, whether, you know, if you spike it with - what did he put in there? Do you know what he put in? What kind of…

LICHTMAN: Yes. Bourbon and rum.

FLATOW: Bourbon and rum.

LICHTMAN: And it's not…

FLATOW: Did you bring any back with you from the lab?

LICHTMAN: No. But we - Charles and I actually made a batch in the office. So, if you're free, anybody.

(Soundbite of laughter)

FLATOW: If you want to conduct this experiment yourself, first go to and see the video, it's Flora's Pick of the Week. And you could try this at home yourself. This is one we could say yes, do this one at home yourself.

LICHTMAN: I don't know if we should recommend that people eat raw eggs.

FLATOW: Well, I mean, if you're making…

LICHTMAN: The FDA does not recommend that.

FLATOW: Right. But if you're making your own eggnog, I'm saying, then you can try putting that…

LICHTMAN: Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

FLATOW: …that additive in yourself.


FLATOW: And taking your own culture of the eggnog afterwards.

LICHTMAN: Yes, I would be interested to see what people find.

FLATOW: All right. Thank you, Flora.


FLATOW: That's about all the time we have today. You can see Flora's Pick of the Week on and our videos page is right up there.

(Soundbite of acknowledgments)

FLATOW: If you'd like to write us in the classic mail way, send it to Science Friday, 4 West 43rd Street, Room 306, New York, New York, 10036. Also, surf over to our Web site at We're looking for your videos. We'd like to see them. Send them to us. And we're podcasting and blogging and creating all kinds of new digital media. Have a great weekend. I'm Ira Flatow in New York.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.