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Mayo - No Refrigeration Needed?

My wife first pointed it out to me last night. Our most recent purchase of a small plastic squeeze container of Best Foods (Hellmann's out East) has printed right on the front of it "No Refrigeration Needed". This means both before and AFTER opening evidently.

Is this something that's been around for a while and I just haven't noticed it before?

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  1. Yes, if it's a "normal" mayo nothing ("bugs") will grow in it. Plus I bet it has enough "additives" to "preserve freshness"....

    10 Replies
    1. re: Pollo

      Thanks. I guess I have been out of the mayo loop, or something.

      1. re: Pollo

        I don't get it. Why does everyone freak out over potato salad with mayo at a picnic, if you don't have to refrigerate it? I have always heard that you have to keep it cold to be safe. Have they changed the formula?

        1. re: danhole

          Explantion: water activity (aw)....

          1. re: danhole

            That common misconception dates back to the days of homemade mayo. Today's commercial pasteurized mayos are very safe. That being said, potato salad shouldn't be left at room temperature for too long, because the potatoes are still a breeding ground for bacteria.

            1. re: smarsh

              What misconception? Potatoes have high water activity (>0.98) and mayo has much lower water activity (~0.90) which prevents all pathogens of concern from growing (acidification also helps). Even home made mayo will be OK if it's made properly. Yes, the current production requirements/regulation call for use of acidified and pasteurized eggs (note that the final product is not pasteurized) but you could get the same results using non-pasteurized eggs and accidification (i.e. lemmon juice/vinegar)....have a look: http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Mayonn...

              1. re: Pollo

                If you look, I was replying to danhole, not you. The misconception I was referring to was that of the mayo being the culprit in picnic potato salad poison.

              2. re: smarsh

                It's not the mayo, its not the potatoes, it's the MEAT in meat salads thats a breeding grounds for bacteria if left at room temp too long.

              3. re: danhole

                What many people don't know is that potatoes (and pasta and rice for that matter) can be as risky as meats in regard to keeping them in the danger zone for too long. Mayo does not need refrigeration.

                1. re: jfryw8

                  According to a Toronto Public Health course I took, rice is the number one case of food bourne illness, followed by salad greens, specifically spinach.

            2. Noticed it the other day at local burger place. Kind of freaky. Leaves me thinking- gross- mayo was on my shouldn't eat but do list. I think it just moved higher on the list and got aded to the make myself list

              1. I asked the health inspector about this the last time she was in - she said that it did not need to be refrigerated!

                1. I don't believe that ketchup needs refridgerating even if it says it does on the bottle. In the olden days my mother hardly kept anything in the refridgerator such as ketchup, mayo, mustard, jams, sauces, now it seems we are supposed to fill our fridge doors with all kinds of jars and bottles.

                  1. guys, mayo is safe at room temperature - as a matter of fact, if you make homemade mayo, they tell you NOT to refrigerate it on the first day - the acid can only kill the nasties at room temperature - of course this means you do need to put enough vinegar in your mayo

                    1. Be that as it may, you will find jfood's mayo in the fridge next to the ketchup and the butter.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jfood

                        It just goes to show how VERY, VERY, VERY confident Best Foods must be that this is an absolutely safe practice, understanding both the litigious nature of our society and the terrible public relations damage an incident of food poisoning would be for the company, given the way our public and private media (internet bloggers) operate.

                      2. Servorg,

                        Jfood just looked at his squeeze bottle of Hellman's and he is alsoout east (CT). It states "DO NOT FREEZE; REFRIGERATE AFTER OPENING" (their caps not jfood's).

                        Likewise on the hellmanns.com website:

                        What’s the best way to store my mayonnaise? Can I freeze it?

                        Your mayonnaise should be refrigerated after opening. Storage conditions (temperature) will affect product quality. High temperatures will accelerate the loss of fresh flavor and exposure to cold (near freezing temperatures) can change the consistency, texture, and thickness and may cause separation. Therefore we do not recommend freezing. For best dispensing, we recommend storing squeeze bottles upside down.

                        This same Q&A appears on the bestfoods.com website.

                        Interesting that your bottle states otherwise.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: jfood

                          Really strange. My bottle say's "Do not freeze. No refrigeration needed". What sort of schizophrenia is going on at this company? A little joke on the left hand coast? ;-D

                          1. re: Servorg

                            Wow is that strange.

                            Is there a website underneath to go to? would love to see if they direct you to a site other than bestfoods.com.

                            1. re: jfood

                              No website on the label. Maybe Dolores has it right below. It could be a printing error. I'm feeling a little strange. Any PI attorney's out there? (g). Next time we are at the market I'm going to sit down in the salad dressing aisle and start reading all the Best Food labels and see what I find, (probably I'll see the men in white coats with butterfly nets advancing on me if I read too long).

                              1. re: Servorg

                                and jfood sent an inquiry to best foods. we'll wait and see and report back.

                            2. re: Servorg

                              Servorg, keep the bottle. It may be a unique misprint and you can get a gazillion dollars for it on the site where you can sell things like that!

                              1. re: Servorg

                                Ugh, I just had another thought servorg. Does it have the country of origin?

                                Like toothpaste that 'seems' familiar but comes from other countries, could this jar of mayo be from another country that didn't get the instructions just right?

                                1. re: dolores

                                  The label (reverse side) only says "2004 UBF Foodsolutions, Lisle, IL 60532" There is no other information about where this Best Food mayo was produced.

                                  1. re: Servorg

                                    servorg, interestingly, if you put just what you show in quotes in the famous search engine, it comes up with an email of a person at UBF. If you send her a note, she may answer the question.

                                    Here is what I found somewhere else:

                                    "...However, there are certain types of micorganisms -- such as molds and other types of bacteria -- that can spoil mayonnaise. [They] don't make you sick, but they can spoil mayonnaise. So once mayonnaise has been opened, it's important to refrigerate it so that the spoilage bacteria don't grow and cause "off flavors.""

                                2. re: Servorg

                                  The label say's "No refrigeration needed", it does not say "Do not refrigerate."

                                  So, if you CHOOSE to refrigerate your mayonnaise after opening, as many of us do, the label cautions "Do not freeze."

                                  If you freeze mayonnaise, the oils will separate from the solids, and when thawed again it will not return to a blended suspension, even after stirring. The result: Your mayonnaise will be ruined if you freeze it.

                                  To summarize: Refrigerate mayonnaise if you wish (although it is not required). But do not freeze mayonnaise.

                                  1. re: REnninga

                                    The interesting thing about that particular squeeze tube of mayo was the "no refrigeration needed" wording on it because every other mayo I've ever bought all told me to "refrigerate after opening." And no one was considering freezing mayo on this thread that I know of, least of all me.

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      I would not be surprised to learn it is made in China or Korea. They probably think "refrigeration" and "freeze" mean the same thing so they changed the statement.

                                3. re: jfood

                                  Mine says the same thing as jfood's. Do not freeze; refrigerate after opening. Even if it didn't, I would still refrigerate out of superstition/upbringing/preference of mayo temp.

                                4. When I worked in a restaurant it was explained to me like this: It is not the mayo that can go bad but the food that gets mixed into that will turn everything. When you swipe your knife into it and then spread what ever you are spreading on and then go to take another scoop of Mayo using the same knife you are adding to the Mayo. This will allow for the growth. Maybe with the new squeeze bottles there is no risk of this happening so they say that it does not need refrigerating!

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

                                    I looked at my jar of Hellman's and it says to refrigerate after opening. I remember when my grandparents owned a hamburger shop down the shore back in the 50's/60's the ketchup was left out on the counter. Of course they went thru it pretty quick so I guess it held ok, I keep my Heinz next to the hellman's in the icebox.

                                    1. re: Eric in NJ

                                      ... that just can't be right. My jar of Best Foods (Hellman's in the West has to be Best Foods for some reason) says to refrigerate after opening. Besides even if it's safe, commercial mayonnaise separates at room temperature and gets quite disgusting. And even though ketchup doesn't necessarily have to be refrigerated it tends to ferment at room temperature, which isn't toxic, but is, like separated mayonnaise, pretty gross, what with all the little bubbles.

                                      1. re: Fuser

                                        Trust me even thought they tell me it does not need refrigeration mine is still in the refrigerator. I also know from experience (not sure if it just here in FL) that if you leave ketchup out it can build up gasses and explode! Happened in our kitchen. Pretty gross to be cleaning ketchup off the ceiling and cupboards!

                                        1. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

                                          wow! your ketchup exploded? tell us more, please Judy!

                                        2. re: Fuser

                                          I just checked my squeeze bottle of "Best Foods" here in San Fran.....and it also says refrigerate after opening!!

                                      2. re: Judy Loves Entertaining

                                        In France, we bought a tube of mayo for picnic sandwiches and never refrigerated it. I think you're right about cross-contamination from knives. We just squirted a little out onto our bread and never got sick. Here at home, though, the jar goes into the fridge.

                                      3. My Hellman's (east coast) says refrgerate. My "Duke's" (never purchased before, but BTW no sugar added) says refrigerate.

                                        1. My freshly opened jar of Hellman's Mayo says to refrigerate after opening and do not freze.

                                          1. I like the cooling factor of mayo when refrigerated, so would chill it no matter what the label said.

                                            1. http://www.bestfoods.com/faqs.aspx

                                              Best Food's own site says to refrigerate! (see question 5, and then read question 6 for a bit of irony.)

                                              1. This issue has always confused me. I grew up with Durkee's kept in the cupboard, but for some reason I keep my Best Foods in the refrigrator. I'll be glad to have this settled.

                                                1. Mayo will not 'go bad' if left unrefrigerated. It will however lose freshness and flavor more rapidly.

                                                  Easy to prove at home: buy two small jars of mayo. Open and use a portion of both. Refrigerate one, leave the other on the counter. Try both again after 3 weeks. in fact you don't have to even try them - just smell both.

                                                  potato salad or other mayo sauced salads go bad because it is no longer just mayonaise but it has been mixed with other substances susceptible to putrefecation

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: FrankJBN

                                                    FrankJBN, i will never think of potato salad in quite the same way!

                                                  2. attached is a letter jfood received from Hellmann's:

                                                    Thanks for writing!

                                                    Mayonnaise can be stored on the shelf before opening. However, once opened refrigeration is recommended. For your information, we included a quote from "The Association for Dressings and Sauces" pamphlet Mayonnaise: The Misunderstood Dressing:

                                                    ..."from a food safety standpoint, commercial mayonnaise (meaning not-homemade) and mayonnaise-type dressings are perfectly stable when stored at room temperature after opening. Quality, not safety, is the only reason the labels on our products suggest that they be refrigerated after opening. Refrigeration ensures that the commercial mayonnaise keeps its fresh flavor for a longer period of time."

                                                    For additional information, on this issue, tips on mayonnaise safety and links to government agencies food safety information, please visit the website www.dressings-sauces.org .

                                                    Thanks for your interest!
                                                    Your friends at Hellmann's

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      >>Quality, not safety, is the only reason the labels on our products suggest that they be refrigerated after opening.<<

                                                      Yeah. Then these guy's who put their website out better get together with their other guy's who make up their labeling and see if they can't get on the same page.

                                                      It's a good thing that my wife won't let me leave the mayo unrefrigerated, label or no. ;-D

                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                        I just had essentially the same reply today. See below:


                                                        Thank you for writing back.

                                                        After looking into this further for you we have checked with our product specialist and from a food safety standpoint, Hellmann's/Bestfoods mayonnaise is perfectly stable when stored at room temperature after opening.

                                                        The vinegar, lemon juice, salt and other ingredients in mayonnaise create an environment that inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms.

                                                        Refrigeration is recommended not for safety, but for best quality; to retain its fresh taste longer.

                                                        Thank you for providing your complete address, as we are sending a coupon as a gesture a good will.

                                                        Chris Green

                                                        Hellmann’s Consumer Services

                                                        1. re: Servorg

                                                          guess they like you better than jfood, no coupon here.

                                                          you will still find jfood's hellman's next to the ketchup mustard and butter in the fridge.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            It's funny you should mention the coupon. Here is a copy of my reply to the company:

                                                            >>Hi Chris. Thanks for looking into this matter more thoroughly, and for your reply, which explained it to my satisfaction. I also want to thank you for sending us a coupon for your fine product. While that gesture is completely unnecessary it is very much appreciated, (to paraphrase the line one hears in some Hollywood movies; "You had me at the label, 'Bestfoods'")<<.

                                                        2. re: jfood

                                                          this is a fascinating thread. we never refrigerated the mayonnaise (only bestfoods, ever) growing up. we still don't. i'm sure it's on the kitchen counter right now, where it always is. it's never turned "funny/icky" or tasted "off" or separated or anything.

                                                          it wasn't until i went to college and had roommates that i realized that other people refrigerated their mayo.

                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                            I can't believe that "The Association for Dressings and Sauces" is for real, but it is! The next time that I have a mayonnaise question, I'm going straight to the authority: http://www.dressings-sauces.org

                                                          2. It appears from this discussion that for years, I have been throwing out perfectly good containers of previously opened, but refrigerated, mayo. It smelled fine. It looked fine. But it was three weeks old, and I remembered my father's comment that mayo was, essentially, the same stuff that they used to grow microorganisms in petri dishes. I must have thrown out fifty gallons of mayonnaise over the years. What a waste! I think that I will still keep it refrigerated, but thanks for enlightening me, everybody! At least, I won't have to throw out so much of it anymore.

                                                            6 Replies
                                                            1. re: gfr1111

                                                              I think it's time to have "Pops" pay some $ for that bad advice.....

                                                              1. re: Pollo

                                                                Really. We buy the industrial size jar at Costco and it lasts months in the fridge and tastes fine all the way to the finish.

                                                              2. re: gfr1111

                                                                As a related question, what does the "Best Before Date' refer to? Is it an unopened jar on a shelf? Is it a different date if the jar is kept closed in a refrigerator? Is it again a different date for an opened jar in a fridge?

                                                                1. re: mexivilla

                                                                  In my experience, "best by date" or "best before date" refer to unopened packages. Once you open something, the whole timing structure changes again. Think ultra-pasteurized milk: in the unopened carton the "sell by" date may be months out when you purchase it at the store. Once you open it, though, it will keep only the week to ten days or so that regular milk will, once opened. Potato chips are another good example; the date is only until the package is opened because then there's no way to account for differences in storage, humidity etc.

                                                                  1. re: mexivilla

                                                                    You made me curious and I found a site with terms defined. Here it is:


                                                                    So it's just a quality issue, not a safety issue. Good to know!

                                                                    1. re: danhole

                                                                      Thanks, great website. And on a subject discussed here in depth, my latest jar of Best Foods Mayo has a note on the label "Also known as Hellmans east of the Rockies"

                                                                2. I can tell you what bad Hellmans is like from my experience today. I went to my pantry and took out an unopened Hellmans, added it to my egg salad tasted it and went yukk.

                                                                  the mayo was slightly pinker than usual and more solid. I checked the use by and it was December 05. Either I bought this in this state or it has been sitting in my pantry for over 2 years (unlikely as we are big mayo eaters). It also tasted sweeter than usual.

                                                                  8 eggs and a jar of mayo are now in the trash.

                                                                  1. This is a great thread, very informative. And confirms what I'd suspected for a while. We're all too "eeewey" about supposedly bad food. I wish someone would announce somewhere visibly and publicly that it's not the mayo, it's the meat in the salad that's causing a problem!

                                                                    I ought to look to see if there's a similar thread about moldy food. I have heard that the mold is not toxic or harmful in any way, and that the food is still edible. Maybe I can find something to confirm or refute that.

                                                                    1. The reason things need to be refridgerated is to reduce the chance of spoilage. When something is cold bacteria don't reproduce as quickly. In regard to mayo...when you put a knife in a jar of mayo our kitchens are not sterile environments. Air, dust, dirt, bacteria etc... enter the jar and things at room temperature breed bacteria more quickly. That is why you need to use the mayonnaise and put it back in the fridge after using it. As for the water...the water itself doesn't spoil..but when you put your mouth to a bottle of water your saliva goes into it a bit. You know what is said about the human mouth and how dirty it is. So...you enter your bacteria laden saliva with bits of food/plaque etc... and you have started a culture in your water bottle. So drink your water in one sitting. Also imagine what sort of fun is breeding in the bottle with water + saliva/bacteria+ hot sun=? Duh!

                                                                      As for eggs...if they are fresh laid eggs they can remain outside the refridgerator. Once refridgerated they need to be kept refridgerated. Fresh eggs have a natural protective seal on them... Commercial eggs have been washed and therefore that protective seal has been removed so eggs must be kept refridgerated. This is why you sometimes see farm eggs on stands not refridgerated. They don't need to be until they have been away from the hen or undergone a cooling inside A/C or in the fridge.

                                                                      Mold is (usually that is another story)bad! I know personally! Lost $120 thousand due to our home. It destroyed out health for a LONG time....Having said that...all species of mold are NOT the same. Granted once you see mold it has dendrites which have spread through the entire fruit or vegetable....(or drywall for that matter) Even if you cut of the "visible" mold...the spores are throughout the fruit. Throw it out(preferably in your compost) Cheese is a different subject. It is from specific cultivated "mold"...but still be careful of allergies. I can eat some cheeses...but many make my mouth swell up inside my cheeks. Not sure what I think about mold on cheese. Is that mold the same as it was cultured from? Doubtfully...I would throw it out... But that is just me and I haven't researched that specific part about mold and cheese thoroughly.

                                                                      1. I just checked a jar of Hellman's Real that I bought today (in Virginia). It says" "Do not freeze. Refrigerate after opening' Are you sure you're reading it right?

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: bnemes3343

                                                                          Righting it read, you say? Just kidding. Yeah, it says no need to refrigerate (at all - ever - before or after opening). This is one of the squeeze top types with the narrow slit for the mayo to come out so I guess they don't worry about the consumers getting food residue into the mayo. I may put this up for sale on Ebay after we use it up. Keep an eye out! ;-D

                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                            Just got back to NJ and checked the Hellman's light (glass jar). It clearly says 'Refrigerate after opening', so you obviously have a jar that was intentionally mislabled by a Miracle Whip fan...

                                                                        2. What you have seems to be a specific squeeze bottle of Hellmans. It is the packaging, not the mayo, that makes refrigeration unnecessary. (Something about the package design, which eliminates air in the package? I can't remember what the rep told me.) I was under the impression that these were only available in foodservice and not yet sold commercially.

                                                                          1. Weird. In toronto, hotdog vendors are not allowed having mayo on their carts, although many do. I assumed it was because of spoilage. This makes some sense on the warm days, I don't think I would want to eat mayo that had been sitting out all day in 40 degree heat (although it may still actually be ok). But the rest of the year....hmm...I wonder the reasoning behind this and am too lazy atm to look it up. But when I do I will update this post, unless of course anyone knows about this already,

                                                                            1. Are you serious? Even unopened, it should be refrigerated. Who wants warm mayo, anyway? Should you make your own, using uncooked eggs makes your mayo a real threat. Be careful!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: chouchou

                                                                                >>Even unopened, it should be refrigerated.<<

                                                                                Um, mayo in the market is sold unrefrigerated.

                                                                              2. I can clear one more thing up. The bottle that listed UBF Lisle IL must have been a foodservice bottle. Unilever Foodsolutions is based in Lisle. They have different lables than the retail lables and push the fact that it is used as a table top bottle at the opperator level and does not need to be kept cold.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: WineDrinkerToo

                                                                                  When I have purchased the squeeze jars (once or twice), I have noticed a taste difference that I did not care for. The only reason I ever buy them is if I am setting up a help yourself, make your own sandwich buffet. I like the idea that it is squeezed onto the bread and there are not a lot of dirty knives and forks being inserted into the regular bottle. I know I can also put some into a little bowl, but that gets skeevy looking pretty quickly.

                                                                                2. I worked in a kitchen that got their mayo packed in a big plastic bag in a cardboard box. The bag was twist-tied, not air tight. It was weird to me. I have also been taught in a food safety class that (as already said above) it is the proteins that breed the pathogens in salads made with mayo, not the mayo itself.

                                                                                  1. All commercially-made mayo is completely safe and does not really need to be refrigerated because the pH in mayonnaise is set at a point that bacteria could not survive in that environment.

                                                                                    1. Kewpie mayonnaise (of Japanese extraction) is never refrigerated when I see it in stores.

                                                                                      1. Mine isn't the squeeze bottle but it clearly says refrigerate after opening on it.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: Br00klyn68

                                                                                          All refrigerating does is help preserve the flavor of the mayo. It has nothing to do with preventing it from going bad.

                                                                                        2. Yes, but not all family members are careful (kids) and you can find "backwash" in the mayo from double dipping, etc. Globs of other foods in the mayo may be a bacteria breeding grounds at room temperature. I'd rather be safe than sorry.