Apparently, Cutting The Mold Off Food Doesn't Always Work (2022)

So you’re enjoying a yummy piece of white bread when, boom, you realize that you’ve bitten into a colorful patch of green fuzzy mold. Ugh!

Not only can (accidentally) eating mold feel and taste disgusting, but it’s also worry-inducing. Like, what happens if you eat mold? What if the mold was dangerous? Should you head to the emergency room immediately?

Before you worry too much, relax. You should know that it’s common to accidentally consume a bit of mold, explains Keri Gans, RD, a New-York based dietitian and author. It’s super easy for mold to grow on food that’s soft and porous like bread, fruit, vegetables, and more, Gans says. Odds are, you’ve probably eaten mold before and you didn’t even know it.

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Basically, eating moldy food probably won't do you too much harm, let alone kill you, says Rudolph Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. (Phew.)

So, while you might be grossed out or annoyed that you munched on that blue fuzz, you'll probably be fine. That said, there are definitely a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to ingesting moldy food.

Even though the odds are that you’re fine, on rare occasions, mold can actually make you sick. And it’s better to be informed about the risks than to nonchalantly move forward, no?

Before you keep noshing on your fruit or popping that bread in the toaster, here's everything that can happen if you eat mold, according to experts.

Give it to me straight. What happens if I eat mold?

Don't run to the bathroom to scrub your tongue with a bar of soap just yet. “You’re not going to die from eating mold,” says Dr. Bedford. In fact, as long as your immune system is in good shape, you can digest it like any other food.

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Though molds (a.k.a. microscopic fungi)—which creep up on plant and animal products after being transported there by air, water, or insects—can be dangerous, they usually aren’t, according to the USDA.

After all, molds are actually meant to be on certain foods—including dry-cured country hams and cheeses such as Brie, and Camembert. In many of these cases, mold is totally safe to eat, the USDA says.

But what about the fuzzy green or white stuff that pops up unannounced on fruits, vegetables, bread, and dairy products?

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You might feel sick after accidentally eating these molds, but that's most likely because the mold tastes bad, not because of any particular toxin in it, says Dr. Bedford.

Even then, he recommends waiting to see if your symptoms escalate beyond nausea before rushing to call the doctor. “The stomach is a harsh environment, so, for the most part, most bacteria and fungus won't survive,” he explains.

But what if I do get super sick from eating moldy food?

“It’s very uncommon that you’re going to get [really] sick from mold,” says Dr. Bedford. And in the rare instance that you do, you'll likely have had to consume large amounts of the stuff. (And, c'mon, are you really going to keep licking the fuzz off your food? I didn't think so.)

If the unlikely occurs, though, and your symptoms include persistent nausea and vomiting, you should definitely call the doctor, Dr. Bedford says. Typically, he'd just prescribe anti-nausea medication—but if you're really feeling miserable, he might prescribe something to induce vomiting or diarrhea to try to flush out your system.

In some cases, people have allergic reactions to certain molds, which can contribute to respiratory issues, says Dr. Bedford. But don't worry, they're usually temporary and easily treated by your doctor.

Ultimately, though, don't get too freaked out: In his 30 years of practice, Dr. Bedford says he has never seen anyone die or require more intense treatment due to mold (though that doesn't mean it's impossible).

Just take mold as a sign that your food’s gone bad and move on.

Wait, can't I just cut the mold off of my food?

If you're not too skeeved out by that patch of mold on your eats, you might be tempted to just cut it off and continue eating, but whether or not this is actually a good idea depends on the food.

Though you only see their fuzzy discolored tops, all molds have “roots” that invade foods, according to the USDA. Since these roots allow toxins (if there are any) to spread throughout the inside of your food, your best move is to throw out the moldy food in its entirety, regardless of where you see the moldy patch, Dr. Bedford says.

Still, mold can't penetrate certain hard cheeses, hard salami, firm fruits, and vegetables as easily as softer foods, the USDA says. That makes these foods easier to save from a fuzzy patch. Just make sure to cut off at least an inch around and below the moldy spot, keep your knife out of the mold, and wrap the “good” part of the food in a new covering.

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For quick reference, these food are generally okay to eat once you cut off any mold:

  • Hard cheeses
  • Hard salami
  • Firm fruits
  • Vegetables

These foods, meanwhile, should be thrown away if at all moldy:

  • Soft cheeses (that are not meant to be moldy)
  • Soft fruits
  • Baked goods
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Yogurt
  • Jams
  • Meat
  • Bread

Also, FYI, toasting your bread will not kill the mold on it, so don't even go there. Since bread is super porous, it's definitely one to chuck at the first sign of fuzz, says the USDA.

But wait, isn't mold used to make certain foods?

In short, yes, mold is used to make some of your favorite foods like cheese, soy sauce, vinegar, yogurt, and more—which means that some mold is obviously not dangerous to eat, Gans explains.

For example, cheese is made with common molds like Penicillium strains. (Think of the stinky, rotted look of blue cheese and gorgonzola.) And yup, traditional soy sauces and vinegars use Koji, a fungus, to ferment and create that classic acidic, tart, and sometimes sweet taste.

But all of these molds are generally considered safe to eat, since they’re consumed as part of the food they’re used to make, Gans explains.

That said, when you see an unnatural growth occur on these foods, don’t disregard it, notes the USDA. If you find something funky popping up on these foods (picture anything uncharacteristically green, blue, and fuzzy), your best bet is still to cut off the area or discard the item entirely.

What are mycotoxins?

While most mold isn’t dangerous to eat in small amounts, there is a specific exception: mycotoxins.

ICYDK, mycotoxins are toxic chemicals that can be produced by mold and, if consumed (or even inhaled) in large quantities, can cause disease and death, per the USDA.

The poisonous substance is typically found in grain and nut crops, but also in celery, grape juice, apples, and other produce. It’s estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations that around 25 percent of the world’s food crops contain mycotoxins, says the USDA.

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That said, don't worry too much—you have some control over the situation. The best way you can avoid eating mycotoxins is by preventing mold growth in the first place, Gans says. This is done by ensuring that you're storing your grocery goods properly, Gans says.

Which might have you wondering...

How can I prevent mold from forming in the first place?

Since warm, humid conditions encourage mold growth—and dry mold spores float through the air in search of new places in which to grow some more moldy friends—the USDA recommends a few best practices for keeping mold from messing with your food:

  • Examine foods for mold before buying them
  • Purchase food in small amounts so mold doesn't have time to grow
  • Cover food with plastic wrap
  • Stash food in the refrigerator quickly
  • Eat leftovers within three or four days
  • Clean your refrigerator regularly
  • Keep your home's humidity level below 40 percent

Of course, molds can still grow in the refrigerator (albeit much more slowly), but following these guidelines can help keep your eats fresh and fuzz-free for as long as possible.

The bottom line: Eating moldy food probably won't make you sick, but most foods should be thrown away at the first sign of fuzz. To prevent mold growth, properly wrap all food and store it in a clean, dry refrigerator.

Aryelle Siclait

Editor

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Aryelle Siclait is the editor at Women's Health where she writes and edits articles about relationships, sexual health, pop culture, and fashion for verticals across WomensHealthMag.com and the print magazine. She's a Boston College graduate and lives in New York.

FAQs

Can you eat food with mold if you cut it off? ›

Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold. 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).

Why you shouldn't eat food with mold? ›

Mold can produce toxic chemicals called mycotoxins. These can cause disease and even death, depending on the amount consumed, the length of exposure and the age and health of the individual ( 11 ). Acute toxicity includes gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, as well as acute liver disease.

What happens if you cook moldy food? ›

Bread and baked goods with mold can be dangerous.

One common mold that grows on bread, Rhizopus stolonifer, also called black bread mold, can cause deadly infections. Instead of risking sickness, baked goods with mold should all be thrown away.

Can you cut mold off meat? ›

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it is perfectly normal for foods stored at room temperature such as hard salami and dry-cured country hams to sometimes have mould on the surface. As such, it's safe to scrape the mould from the surface and consume the meat underneath.

Can I cut off the moldy part of a tomato? ›

Per U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, if a soft food gets moldy, you should pitch the whole thing because the mold could have penetrated further than is visible. On hard, low-moisture fruits and vegetables, it's OK to just trim off the mold, but use good judgment.

Is it OK to cut the mold off cheese? ›

Mold generally can't penetrate far into hard and semisoft cheeses, such as cheddar, colby, Parmesan and Swiss. So you can cut away the moldy part and eat the rest of the cheese. Cut off at least 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) around and below the moldy spot.

What if I accidentally ate moldy cheese? ›

As soon as you realize the cheese is moldy, throw it out. If you notice mold on a block of hard or semisoft cheese, it is safe to cut it off, along with a one-inch radius around it. While rare, possible symptoms of eating mold may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shortness of breath and allergic reactions.

Can you eat moldy bread if you toast it? ›

The Bottom Line. You shouldn't eat mold on bread or from a loaf with visible spots. The mold roots can quickly spread through bread, though you can't see them. Eating moldy bread could make you sick, and inhaling spores may trigger breathing problems if you have a mold allergy.

Is mold on bread penicillin? ›

Modern-day penicillin antibiotics are produced synthetically and are not contaminated with mold particles.

Is cheese a mold? ›

Is cheese made from mold? Cheese is not mold nor is it the by-product of mold. Some cheese varieties like blue cheese have specific species of mold that are intentionally added during the cheesemaking process to enhance the flavor of texture.

Is blue cheese mold? ›

Blue cheese is made using a type of mold called Penicillium, which is responsible for its distinct taste, smell, and appearance. Unlike other types of mold, the types of Penicillium used to produce blue cheese do not produce mycotoxins and are considered safe to consume.

Is it OK to eat a little mold? ›

In most cases, accidentally eating a bit of mold won't do you any harm. The worst you'll experience is probably a bad taste in your mouth and a ruined meal.

Can I cut mold off potato? ›

It is okay to cut mold off of hard cheeses and hard fruits or vegetables like apples, potatoes, onions or cauliflower. Just be sure to cut away at least 1 inch as surface mold is more than what you see. It actually has hyphae or roots which can penetrate deeper into the food.

Can you remove mold from yogurt and eat it? ›

If you see mold in your spoonful of yogurt, should you throw away the cup? "If you can see mold on the top of yogurt, you should discard the entire product immediately," says Kantha Shelke, a spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists, a non-profit scientific society based in Chicago.

Can you cut off moldy part of sweet potato? ›

You can remove the spots, and cook and enjoy the rest of the sweet potato. What is this? The exception is mold spots; if a sweet potato has begun to mold, throw it away. When it comes to pithy sweet potatoes, as long as the inside of the potato has only a few holes here and there, it should be perfectly safe to eat.

Can you cut mold off onion? ›

To discourage mold growth, store onions in the refrigerator up to two months. Rinse off small amounts of the black mold on the outer scales of the onion under cool, running tap water or cut off the affected layers. The unaffected part can be used.

Can you cut mold off bacon? ›

If you notice any type of mold or growth on the product, your bacon has definitely gone bad. While you may be tempted to cut off the moldy spot and cook up the rest of the bacon, this isn't recommended.

Can you eat grapes if one is moldy? ›

No need to toss all the grapes if you see some that look moldy or wrinkled. Pick through the bunch and get rid of only the bad ones to prevent the mold from spreading to the rest of the bunch. If you notice a white coating on your grapes, they are still good to eat.

How do you remove mold from cheese? ›

How to Remove Mold From Cheese - YouTube

How is cheese aged without mold? ›

Placing cheese into a plastic box with a lid will help regulate proper humidity for aging. To elevate the humidity within the container, simply place a damp sponge or paper towel in the corner of the container, not touching the cheese. The goal is to add moisture to the air, not to have standing water in the container.

Can dogs eat moldy cheese? ›

Moldy food can contain mycotoxins that are poisonous to your dog. If ingested, the syndrome that can occur is called mycotoxin intoxication or mycotoxin toxicosis. Seizures and tremors are the most common symptoms. Severe cases can be fatal without treatment.

What happens if you drink moldy water? ›

Drinking from a moldy water bottle can make you sick because you are swallowing mold. Mold can cause all kinds of problems including respiratory problems, nausea, cramping, diarrhea and unexplained infections.

What happens if you eat moldy blueberries? ›

Because molds on berries are usually innocuous, even accidentally eating a moldy berry — though not recommended — would be unlikely to make you sick, Dr. Mitcham said. Also, “you would probably spit it out before you managed to swallow it,” because moldy berries “have a very off, very bad flavor,” she added.

What happens if you eat a slice of moldy bread? ›

Most likely, you'll be okay.” However, in certain cases, the mold found on spoiled food could be dangerous, so if you suddenly develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, an elevated temperature or diarrhea, you should immediately seek medical help.

Does freezing bread stop mold? ›

Should I store bread in the freezer? Freezing bread is a great way to preserve bread for an extended period of time, but it will not prevent the mould from growing. You can delay the mould growth on your bread by choosing a drier bread or one with preservatives, but that really doesn't solve the issue.

Can dogs eat moldy bread? ›

Mouldy food, including bread, nuts and dairy products, can contain tremorgenic mycotoxins that could make your dog very ill. Symptoms of mycotoxin poisoning include vomiting, fever, agitation, tremors, seizures.

Are white spots on bread mold? ›

Those white spots are mold. It usually means that the bread bag, or whatever container you store the bread in, was not properly sealed and this allowed mold to grow on the bread. Note that whether we are talking about white spots, or light green or yellow furry sections or worse, please do NOT eat the bread.

What foods are high in penicillin? ›

griseofulvum is frequently isolated from corn, wheat, barley, flour, and walnuts (40) and from meat products (27), thus being a potential source for the presence of penicillin in food.

What foods to avoid if you have a mold allergy? ›

Common culprits include:
  • Cheese.
  • Mushrooms.
  • Vinegar and foods containing vinegar, such as salad dressing, ketchup, and pickles.
  • Sour cream, sour milk, and buttermilk.
  • Meat or fish.
  • Breads and other food made with yeast.
  • Jarred jams and jellies.
  • Sauerkraut.
2 Jun 2020

Is there a natural antibiotic? ›

Ginger. The scientific community also recognizes ginger as a natural antibiotic. Several studies, including one published in 2017 , have demonstrated ginger's ability to fight many strains of bacteria. Researchers are also exploring ginger's power to combat seasickness and nausea and to lower blood sugar levels.

Is cheese just spoiled milk? ›

The reason expired milk becomes “cheesy” is that bacteria in the milk grow rapidly when it gets old. The bacteria digest the milk sugar (lactose), producing lactic acid as a result. Lactic acid causes the casein to curdle, or separate into lumps, and gives the milk a sour smell.

Is blue cheese healthy? ›

Blue cheese is a great source of protein. Researchers also believe that the fat in certain dairy products, such as blue cheese, may have a neutral or even positive effect on cardiovascular health. Blue cheese is also an excellent source of: Calcium.

Does chocolate get moldy? ›

Chocolate cannot grow mold. Sugar bloom or fat bloom are the only things you'll see happening on chocolate. This only happens when the chocolate is improperly tempered or improperly stored. May not look pretty or taste good, but it's not moldy.

What is the unhealthiest cheese? ›

Unhealthy Cheeses
  • Halloumi Cheese. Be aware of how much of this squeaky cheese you're adding to your morning bagel and salads! ...
  • Goats/ Blue Cheese. 1 oz. ...
  • Roquefort Cheese. Roquefort is a processed blue cheese and is incredibly high in sodium. ...
  • Parmesan. ...
  • Cheddar Cheese.
20 Apr 2017

What animal makes blue cheese? ›

Most blue cheeses are made from cow's milk, but Roquefort is made from the milk of the ewe. Spores of species Penicillium roqueforti are mixed with either the milk or the curd.

Is blue cheese penicillin? ›

Of note, the main cheese-making penicilliums: roquefort (blue cheese), camemberti (Camembert and Brie) and glaucum (Gogonazola) are not penicillin producers.

How long does mold stay in your body? ›

Those who process toxins well can see their symptoms disappear as quickly as a few days. Others who eliminate toxins slowly can experience symptoms for much longer. They could be ill for months or even years after the source of mold is eliminated.

Can you eat a cucumber with mold on it? ›

After picking a cucumber, it will last for about one week in the refrigerator. Use a couple of your five senses to tell if a whole cucumber has spoiled. If it feels squishy rather than firm, it's bad, but if only one end is soft, cut it off and eat the firm end. If you see any mold growth on the skin, don't eat it.

Can bread mold turn black? ›

To date, 10 species of Rhizopus have been identified, including the most commonly seen, Rhizopus Stolonifer. The common name of this particular organism, black bread mold, comes from its tendency to grow on bread.

Can you cut mold off tortillas? ›

If you have mold along the edges of your tortilla, then we would recommend that you simply slice them off and consume the non-moldy parts as soon as possible. If you have spots of mold dotted around your entire tortilla, then you can simply wipe them away with some kitchen paper soaked in vinegar.

How long after eating mold Will I get sick? ›

Q: How long after eating moldy bread will I get sick? If you end up getting sick from eating bad bread, it will happen within a few hours. Moldy bread can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other symptoms.

What should I do if I accidentally ate moldy bread? ›

Should I be worried if I ate moldy bread? Don't worry: Swallowing the fuzzy green stuff isn't likely going to do your body harm. The most awful part about eating mold is probably realizing you ate mold. Even though it might make you gag, being totally grossed out is typically the worst thing to result.

What happens if I accidentally eat moldy bread? ›

It is very, very unlikely that you will get sick from eating mold. While you may get a slight stomach ache and feel a little nauseous, you shouldn't experience any other symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea. On the off chance you do have worsening symptoms that just won't quit; you should see a doctor right away.

Should you throw away moldy bread? ›

The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises discarding the entire loaf of bread if it has developed mold (1). Though you may only see a few spots of the fungus, its microscopic roots can spread quickly through porous bread.

Can you eat moldy bread if you toast it? ›

Also, FYI, toasting your bread will not kill the mold on it, so don't even go there. Since bread is super porous, it's definitely one to chuck at the first sign of fuzz, says the USDA.

Can you eat bread that has mold on it? ›

No, it's not safe to eat moldy bread. In fact, even a bit of mold on a loaf of bread means that the entire thing is probably contaminated. Bread is a soft food, which means it is easy for mold spores to penetrate it and quickly spread.

Can mold grow in your intestines? ›

SIFO is a condition in which high levels of fungi are found in the small intestine. This overgrowth may often cause gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. While GI fungal overgrowth can often develop in individuals with a weakened immune system, it can also occur in people with healthy immune systems.

Can mold grow in your lungs? ›

The mold spores can colonize (grow) inside lung cavities that developed as a result of chronic diseases, such tuberculosis, emphysema, or advanced sarcoidosis. The fibers of fungus might form a lump by combining with white blood cells and blood clots.

Is it OK to eat a little mold? ›

In most cases, accidentally eating a bit of mold won't do you any harm. The worst you'll experience is probably a bad taste in your mouth and a ruined meal.

What happens if you eat a small amount of mold? ›

Most likely, you'll be okay.” However, in certain cases, the mold found on spoiled food could be dangerous, so if you suddenly develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, an elevated temperature or diarrhea, you should immediately seek medical help.

Is moldy bread penicillin? ›

Penicillium mold naturally produces the antibiotic penicillin.

What happens if you drink moldy water? ›

Drinking from a moldy water bottle can make you sick because you are swallowing mold. Mold can cause all kinds of problems including respiratory problems, nausea, cramping, diarrhea and unexplained infections.

Is blue cheese mold? ›

Blue cheese is made using a type of mold called Penicillium, which is responsible for its distinct taste, smell, and appearance. Unlike other types of mold, the types of Penicillium used to produce blue cheese do not produce mycotoxins and are considered safe to consume.

What happens if you eat mold on fruit? ›

Richards says it's unlikely that you'll experience side effects as a result of eating moldy fruit. She does note, however, that there are a few symptoms to keep an eye out for, such as nausea, vomiting, gas, and diarrhea. These, she says, could be signs of gastrointestinal distress.

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