Why You Should Rethink Drinking Store-Bought Eggnog

Eggnog, while a perennially popular holiday beverage, can be somewhat controversial. After all, if you're going to make it yourself, the traditional recipe calls for raw eggs (via The Spruce Eats), which, yikes! Big no-no, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Okay — so the risk of salmonella is lessened if the eggs are pasteurized, and there are eggnog recipes where the eggs are actually cooked, but then you run the risk of having little bits of scrambled egg floating in your drink, as happened to one unluckily reveler on Reddit, which is just plain gross.

One of the safest ways to consume eggnog is to stick with the store-bought kind, which you can then tweak with your own secret ingredients and/or your alcohol of choice. Commercially-prepared eggnog is pasteurized, after all, since unlike homemade items it is held to some pretty stringent safety standards before it can be sold. Still, while it may be relatively risk-free, at least as far as food poisoning goes, it seems that store-bought nogs have a few issues of their own. Amy Shapiro MS, RD, CDN, the founder of Real Nutrition, says that this holiday drink is a product she really can't endorse.

The store-bought stuff has some pretty dubious additives

Shapiro tells us that eggnog from the supermarket contains thickeners, stabilizers, and preservatives meant to extend its shelf life. She also thinks they "may contain more sugar than those made at home" in an attempt "...to appeal to the masses." When it comes to specific problematic ingredients found in many store-bought eggnogs, Shapiro singles out high fructose corn syrup, which she says "is highly processed and has been linked to weight gain," carrageenan, which she tells us is "an emulsifier that has been shown to be carcinogenic and disrupt the GI tract," and artificial colors that she warns "can lead to excitability in those with ADD or ADHD."

If eggnog is an important part of your holiday celebrations, Shapiro herself advocates the homemade kind as a DIY approach will allow you to "control the ingredients, limit the sugar, and make just enough to last the holiday," but again, you have the risk of salmonella and/or the hassle of having to cook the eggs very, very carefully to make sure they don't solidify and turn your festive holiday drink into something that looks more like a nasty, watery omelet. Decisions, decisions... Perhaps the wisest choice would be to say the heck with it and stick with a delicious peppermint mocha instead.