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Mayonnaise debunks refrigerator myth and wins a seat at the table

Using condiments on food in a restaurant
Nico Kai | Getty Images

Move over ketchup and mustard. Mayonnaise could be heading to a restaurant table near you.

For years, mayonnaise has been kept away from restaurant diners, locked away in the fridge, under the mistaken assumption that the condiment was prone to spoiling. But a recent push to debunk that myth has boosted the product's distribution.

"Mayonnaise manufacturers innovated by taking a classic product and repackaging it for a new purpose," Annie Roberts, vice president of SupplyTrack, said in a statement. "This all-purpose staple now has its rightful place on the restaurant table, and restaurant customers can literally 'hold the mayo.'"

Putting the condiment in diners' hands has made a difference. Between April 2015 and April 2016 shipments of mayo to commercial and noncommercial food outlets rose 3 percent. This is in addition to an 18 percent increase seen during the same period a year earlier, according to the NPD Group's SupplyTrack, a monthly food tracking service.

And for you doubters: Scientists specializing in food products determined that commercially produced mayo has a high enough acidity that bacteria growth associated with food-borne illnesses is slowed and the product doesn't need to be refrigerated, NPD said.

"Refrigerating commercial mayonnaise after opening has more to do with quality and extending its shelf life than it does with spoilage," the company said.

Of course, mayonnaise contaminated by a dirty spoon or a piece of food could still cause issues for consumers.