Molds On Food: Safe to Eat or Not?

This article was not written by TS/A Sweet Dose of Reality and is not intended to provide diet or health advice. TS/A Sweet Dose of Reality does not recommend eating mold or moldy foods. Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of TS/A Sweet Dose of Reality. Refer to the FDA document sourced in this article for more information on what not to eat.

By Joshua Krause | Ready Nutrition

Everyone has had the unfortunate experience of throwing out spoiled food. It’s a sad experience that we all share. You opened up your fridge to grab a snack, only to find that it’s riddled with small moldy spots, and is exuding a funky smell. However, what isn’t shared is the reaction to that situation. That’s because there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who respond to the sight of moldy food by grimacing and immediately throwing it away, and those who wonder if that food can be salvaged.

So which is the correct decision? That’s highly dependent on what kind of food you’re dealing with, according to the FDA. The government agency has released a handy guide to determine which foods should be avoided when they begin to grow mold, and which foods can be saved by scraping off the mold.

According to that guide, the main thing you need to consider is how mold grows in certain foods. In some cases, it only resides on the surface of the food. In other cases however, the mold has roots that burrow deep into the food, and can’t be seen. When that happens, you can’t simply cut the mold away. Once the mold is visible, it’s probably burrowed into everything.

So which foods are most likely to promote this kind of deep-seated mold growth? It’s mainly foods that have a high moisture content, such as:

  • Leftover meats, lunch meats, bacon, and hotdogs
  • Casseroles
  • Cooked Pasta and other grains
  • Yogurt and sour cream
  • Jams

You also should avoid eating soft fruits and vegetables that have become moldy, such as peaches, tomatoes, and cucumbers. Hard produce however, such as carrots and bell peppers, have a much lower water content. If they become moldy, you can simply cut it away. The FDA recommends cutting out at least an inch of material below the mold.

Cheeses have a similar recommendation. Mold on hard cheeses can be cut out; again by removing an inch of material around the mold in every dimension. Soft cheeses, like brie, camembert, cream cheese, and cottage cheese, should always be thrown out.

However, there are some items that don’t have a high water content that should always be thrown out. Bread in particular, tends to grow mold with deep roots, despite having very little moisture. And though they don’t produce mold with deep roots, Peanut butter, legumes and nuts should be thrown out as well.

The only moldy meats that you can eat, are salami and dry cured hams. When these foods grow mold, it’s almost always restricted to the surface. Unlike hard cheeses and produce, you don’t have to cut away a huge chunk of meat to remove the mold. You can just scrub it off of the surface.

Of course, there’s a lot more you can learn about dealing with foods that have mold. Check out the rest of the FDA’s article, which contains an abundance of information on mold, and how to protect yourself from it.


From the FDA article: Molds On Food: Are They Dangerous?

FOOD HANDLING REASON
Luncheon meats, bacon, or hot dogs Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Hard salami and dry-cured country hams Use. Scrub mold off surface. It is normal for these shelf-stable products to have surface mold.
Cooked leftover meat and poultry Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Cooked casseroles Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Cooked grain and pasta Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Hard cheese
(not cheese where mold is part of the processing)
Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap. Mold generally cannot penetrate deep into the product.
Cheese made with mold
(such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, Camembert)
Discard soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert if they contain molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process. If surface mold is on hard cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Stilton, cut off mold at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot and handle like hard cheese (above). Molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process can be dangerous.
Soft cheese
(such as cottage, cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre, Bel Paese, etc.) Crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses (all types)
Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Shredded, sliced, or crumbled cheese can be contaminated by the cutting instrument. Moldy soft cheese can also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Yogurt and sour cream Discard Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.
Jams and jellies Discard The mold could be producing a mycotoxin. Microbiologists recommend against scooping out the mold and using the remaining condiment.
Fruits and vegetables, FIRM
(such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.)
Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce). Small mold spots can be cut off FIRM fruits and vegetables with low moisture content. It’s difficult for mold to penetrate dense foods.
Fruits and vegetables, SOFT
(such as cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, etc.)
Discard SOFT fruits and vegetables with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface.
Bread and baked goods Discard Porous foods can be contaminated below the surface.
Peanut butter, legumes and nuts Discard Foods processed without preservatives are at high risk for mold.

9 comments

  1. It also depends on what kind of mold – watch out for anything orange

    Like

    1. Yeah, personally, if I see mold I toss it. I was going to put a disclaimer at the top or bottom of this article but I think people are smart enough to make their own decisions on what to eat and not to eat.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t think people are smart generally so may be worth doing

        Like

      2. lol. True. I just added a disclaimer.

        People can read the FDA document. I still wouldn’t eat moldy food, even if the FDA says it’s safe for certain foods.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. In this country packets of nuts have to say ‘This product may contain nuts’

        Liked by 1 person

      4. lol.

        Like

      5. don’t think i am joking!

        Like

      6. I know you’re not. You’re preaching to the choir. Look at the blog you’re on.lol.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: