Is it Safe to Eat Moldy Food?

Moldy Food

One day you’re ready for lunch and open a package of bread. But after pulling out a couple slices you see a green fuzz along the edges. At this point, people usually have one of two reactions:

  1. they lose their appetite and toss the loaf
  2. they cut off the offending growth and make a sandwich

But is the second option safe?

It depends on the type of food. For instance, molds grow in threadlike shapes with roots that branch out. So, in softer foods (such as bread) and those with a higher moisture content (such as yogurt and jarred or canned goods) it spreads faster since it’s easier for mold to penetrate more deeply into soft foods versus harder foods. The same is true for meat and poultry. In those cases, the food should be discarded.

Some foods, such as firm fruits and veggies (think: carrots and cabbage), hard cheeses, salamis, etc., can be salvaged by cutting "at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot," according to the USDA. Just be sure to keep the knife out of the mold so you don’t spread the yuck.

What Happens if You Accidentally Eat Mold?

Don't panic, you’re probably okay. Although mold is a tricky organism with the potential to cause disease, “You’re not going to die from eating mold,” says Dr. Bedford, MD, a gastroenterologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. In fact, as long as your immune system is in good shape, you can digest it like any other food.

After all, molds are meant to be on certain foods—including dry-cured country hams and cheeses such as blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Brie, and Camembert. In many of these cases, mold is totally safe to eat, the USDA says. If you know you have a weak immune system or a history of asthma or allergies, you may want to call your doctor and seek treatment. Even then, Dr. Bedford 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.

How to Prevent Mold from Forming in the First Place

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

  • Inspect foods for mold before purchasing
  • Buy food in small amounts so mold doesn't have time to grow
  • Cover food with plastic wrap
  • Store food in the refrigerator quickly
  • Eat leftovers within three or four days
  • Clean your refrigerator frequently
  • Keep your home's humidity level below 40 percent

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

The bottom line? Mold is natural on some foods, eating the other kind won’t likely make you sick, and when in doubt, throw it out!

BUT, mold growing in your home or business is an entirely different matter. That kind of mold can cause respiratory problems and structural damage. Cyclone Kleen Up offers mold removal and mold remediation services in Colorado. We are licensed by the State of Colorado as a General Contractor and we provide a FREE mold inspection, property loss evaluation, and a detailed estimation for our mold clean up services. We partner with trusted mold testing companies to get an accurate report and follow the mold protocol outlined in the report to remediate the mold in your home or business.