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Is it possible to acquire salmonella from consuming royal icing? Is it better to use a powder substitute? I am afraid to serve egg whites that have not been cooked in a recipe. What do you think?

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    @Robert : the recipe is royal icing, which is rather basic. And it has to be stored at room temperature once used, or you end up with condensation on the cake or cookies. And cakes or cookies might be used right away, but it's typical for cakes to be done the day before, and cookies might be done a couple of days in advance. – Joe Jun 28 '17 at 14:33
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If you can get a powdered substitute, or even pasteurized egg whites, and it will make you feel better, go for it. I understand that using meringue powder is actually a bit easier to work with, so if it's convenient to you, and if it provides some peace of mind, don't hesitate. It won't compromise your final product at all.

I think there are official guidelines saying that eggs must be pasteurized (I forget whether the temperature is 140 or 160F) to be considered "safe," but common wisdom and experience would disagree with that. There's such a high proportion of sugar in royal icing that it will kill anything that might be living in the whites. And salmonella is pretty uncommon, in the grand scheme of things, and when it is found, it's usually in the yolks. If your egg whites are fresh and have been stored properly, I really would not worry about it for royal icing at all.

I won't say that it is entirely impossible to get salmonella from royal icing, but I think the odds are negligible. So again, do what makes you feel better.

  • Just wanted to add that it can be very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to whip pasteurized egg whites to a meringue state. – Cindy Jun 28 '17 at 15:18
  • @Cindy : are there variations of royal icing that whip the whites? I know there are for buttercream, but I've always seen royal icing as unwhipped egg whites, powdered sugar and an acid. – Joe Jun 28 '17 at 15:49
  • Even if you bought your eggs today, they might not be 'fresh', due to distribution networks. I'm okay with eating eggs raw from the farmer's market, but not grocery store / factory farmed eggs. (and I'm not immune compromised ... if cooking for them, small children, or the elderly, just buy meringue powder and don't risk it). – Joe Jun 28 '17 at 15:52
  • @Joe To clarify, I didn't mean to whip the whites separately. I was speaking to the end result. Same as you, I haven’t seen any recipes like that. Some recipes use an acid and others don't. Either way, you're trying to get to stiff, glossy peaks. I've never been able to accomplish this with pasteurized eggs. Some others have said they achieved the desired results (with great difficulty). And some have not gotten any further than I have. – Cindy Jun 28 '17 at 16:14
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You can also consider a vegan substitute. I have used the recipe below (with plain unsweetened soy milk) and it was great, although I have never made royal icing with eggs before, so I couldn't tell you how they compare directly.

INGREDIENTS
2-1/4 Cup Confectioners Sugar
2 Tablespoon Light Corn Syrup
1-2 Tablespoon Almond Milk add more as needed 1/2 tsp at a time
Vegan Food Coloring optional

DIRECTIONS
In a bowl, combine the powdered sugar, corn syrup and almond milk with a fork until smooth. If it is too thick, add more almond milk 1/2 tsp at a time. If it is too thin, add more confectioners sugar 1 tsp at a time.

The icing should maintain its shape when drizzled but eventually 'heal' or settle back into itself. Test a cookie or two and wait a few minutes to see if it's too runny before proceeding.

Recipe from this source

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