Egg Whites - Health Concern in Royal Icing?


I am inquiring about the health factors when making royal icing with egg whites. Most recipes/blogs that I read clearly state to use MP (meringue powder_ if the cookie will be served to a pregnant lady, child, or immune-sensitive persons. 

Does anyone have any science backing up the above statement? Any advice you can give would be great! I prefer the taste of royal icing with egg whites and it is cheaper than MP, but don't want to potentially harm anyone! 

Thank you!

Original Post

Hi, Saige. The risk of salmonella is real, especially if you buy mass-produced/industrial eggs. (In fact, recently there was a rather serious outbreak that involved a widespread egg recall: If an egg is infected with salmonella, anyone can get sick (or even die) from it . . . it's just that pregnant women, the elderly, and immuno-compromised people are more vulnerable to serious illness from it.  But this doesn't preclude others from being impacted. To understand the real risks, you should check out the CDC site, as they monitor the impact of such outbreaks. Here are the stats on their site about number of illnesses/deaths as a result of salmonella poisoning each year:

Meringue powder, pure albumen powder, and pasteurized whites virtually eliminate risk, because the eggs are heated/dehydrated to the point that kills bacteria.

Saige L posted:


Thank you so much for you quick response and helpful information! For your royal icing, do you separate the eggs whites individually or purchase the cartons of egg whites only?

You can do either - you can get pasteurized whole eggs or just the whites in the carton. Personally, though, I work with unpasteurized eggs, as I am not serving my cookies to anyone other than my family and I use our farm's eggs.

Judy J posted:

I was wondering if I could heat my egg whites up to pasteurize them the way I do when I make Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  

I don't think the heating process involved in making Italian or Swiss meringue actually hits high enough temperatures for a long enough period of time to kill all bacteria; it's certainly a safeguard, but I'm not sure it's a guarantee.

For instance, this site ( says that whole eggs pasteurized in the shell are maintained at 130F for about 45 minutes (the temperature needs to remain lower than 140F to prevent coagulation of the eggs). I don't know of any meringue recipe that calls for heating this high for this long. Do you?

I have found that using pasteurized egg whites from a carton works very well for me. I started doing this for the reason of safety when making it for recipients whose health etc I was unsure of and I’m glad I made the switch. It is reassuring to know you are not putting someone at risk and I don’t have lots of left over egg yolks.

Hiya everyone and Happy Mother's Day. Like Wabieshad, I use pasteurized whites from a carton. I just feel better about using them.
Not sure about others, but when I make Swiss meringue frosting, I do like to get egg whites up to 160, but that's with granulated sugar in it. Without that sugar, I'd think (maybe?) they would cook like Julia said. If you try it and it works, please let me know!
Have a splendid day <3

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