Health Risks of Royal Icing
Royal icing is ideal, if you're looking at glamming up your cake, gingerbread cookies or any other cutouts. What makes them so perfect is the fact that the consistency of the icing can be changed from thick to thin, based on whether you're using it to write out greetings or simply fill gaps. Also, given the fact that it hardens on drying, you're sure it won't get smudged once you've piped it out on your cake.
Health concerns with royal icing
Royal icing is made by mixing confectioners' sugar, egg whites that are lightly beaten, and a little bit of lemon juice or tartar cream. Since the frosting is made by purely mixing the ingredients and not cooking them, the uncooked egg whites come with a risk of containing Salmonella bacteria. If present, the bacteria can spread all over the cake, wherever the frosting is used, making anyone who takes a bite of the contaminated food, susceptible to Salmonellosis. The disease can show up in the form of extreme nausea, cramps in the abdominal region, fever, headache and diarrhea in the diseased. The symptoms of Salmonellosis usually start showing up about 6-48 hours from the time it has been consumed.
How to prevent Salmonellosis?
Many people think that thoroughly washing the egg shells will help in getting rid of any bacteria that present in the eggs, but this isn't true. Salmonella bacteria is present inside the eggshells and not on the exterior surface. It is present in uncooked eggs, or even in eggs that have been partially cooked. This means that the only way you can get rid of the Salmonella bacteria is by heating and cooking the eggs thoroughly, so as to kill it.
An alternative you could try, is using pasteurized eggs. Pasteurized eggs, that are commonly sold in all supermarkets, are heated before they are poured into a bottle. So you know any bacteria present in the pasteurized eggs has been killed, making it is safe for use. Some recipes also use meringue powder to make the royal icing. Meringue powder is made from dried out egg whites and some cornstarch, which helps in keeping it from forming clumps, when stored. When mixed along with water, the meringue powder can be easily be brought in to a fluffy consistency just like other egg whites, making it a good and safe choice while making royal icing.