Mayo Safe for Summer?

July 20, 2016

Is a potato salad or chicken salad with mayo safe in summer heat? Find out what SupermarketGuru had to say here.

SupermarketGuru hears it all the time, is mayonnaise safe for summer picnics and bbqs? And the answer is a resounding yes, with a few exceptions.

Why is mayo safe for summer parties?
Traditionally, mayo is a blend of oil and egg yolks that is seasoned with vinegar, lemon juice, salt and occasionally mustard. Mayo gets its fragile reputation from the egg yolks which can spoil easily especially in homemade varieties that use unpasteurized eggs if left at room temperature. So, why doesn’t commercial mayo spoil? Commercial brands of mayonnaise use pasteurized eggs, or an egg yolk replacement that doesn’t spoil, that’s also why most varieties of mayo are not refrigerated when you buy them.

Moreover, according to the New York Times, a study from the Food Research Institute of the University of Wisconsin (, found that mayonnaise in salads might actually help reduce spoilage. The vinegar, lemon juice, salt and other ingredients make mayo acidic and “preservative like” and therefore likely to protect against spoilage.

Many dishes that contain mayonnaise tend to be handled a lot and here is where the problem can arise; you add onion or parsley to make a chicken salad and then spread it on bread - creating opportunities for the food to be contaminated. Make sure you properly store and handle all ingredients, use clean cutting surfaces, and clean hands before and after handling raw and cooked foods. Always use different cutting surfaces and utensils when handling raw and cooked foods. Also remember if you are using homemade mayo you need to be much more careful!

Treat mayo salads like you would any other food and make sure to refrigerate after two hours, keep in mind, if it’s a hot day you may want to keep it on ice or only leave it out for at most one hour.