Can eating mold kill you?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can eating mold kill you?”, and what is mold?

Can eating mold kill you?

Yes, eating mold can kill you. This is only possible if you ate food contaminated with mycotoxins. Moreover, the toxicity of the mycotoxins depends upon the amount consumed, the length of exposure, and the age and health of the individual.

In addition to ingesting, you may also unconsciously inhale or absorb the mycotoxins through your skin when exposed to a contaminated environment. 

Aflatoxin is the most toxic mycotoxin. If ingested in sufficient amounts, it can be lethal. Aflatoxin is mostly incident in processed foods becasue it can withstand the processing temperature. 

What is mold?

Mold is a fungus that grows in the form of multicellular, slender threads onto food. When the mold grows on food, the quality characteristics of the food change. The food gives off a weird smell and develops colored fuzzy or dusty texture on the surface. 

The fuzzy growth is the mold growing and the color it gives is due to the mold spores. The mold spores may be green, black, white, or grey. Even though it may look like the mold is only growing on the surface of the food, it has damaged the food at the root level.

Mold thrives in moist and warm environments. Therefore, the fungus is also seen growing in the moist spots indoors. Different types of mold can even grow in the driest places. 

Food preservation techniques like drying, dehydration, freezing, and pickling are all efforts to prevent the growth of mold and other spoilage microbes on food.

Which foods can be contaminated with mold?

Some foods are more susceptible to mold growth than others. The water content of the food plays a huge role in allowing the microbes to grow. Therefore, moist foods with a high water content have the highest chance of mold growth.

The threat of mold growth on food is consistent during all the food manufacturing stages and not just after we have opened the food package. 

Common foods that can grow mold

Fruits: Fruits with a high water content such as strawberries, oranges, grapes, apples, and raspberries

Veggies: Tomatoes, bell peppers, cauliflower, and carrots

Bread: The likelihood of mold growth in homemade bread is higher due to the lack of preservatives.

Cheese: Both soft and hard kinds of cheese

Other foods like milk, nuts, meat, and processed foods, etc are also vulnerable to mold growth. Most molds need oxygen to carry out their metabolic reactions. Therefore, foods packed in air-tight containers serve a poor environment for the mold to grow.

Some molds love dryness and thrive in dry and sugary foods such as chocolate, dried fruits, and baked goods.

Bacteria can also contaminate food

Modl is not the only threat to the quality of food and health of an individual. Bacterial contamination is as important and common as mold contamination. 

Depending upon the type of strain, the number of live bacteria/toxins ingested and the immunity of the individual, the symptoms of bacterial contamination can range from mild to severe.

What do you do if you find mold in your food?

If it is hard food and there are a few moldy spots here and there, you can cut the moldy part and use the rest of the food. If it is soft and easy to penetrate with a few moldy spots, you should discard it immediately. If the food is entirely covered in fungus, it belongs in the bin.

Foods you can salvage

The following foods can be consumed after cutting off the moldy area or spot. Do not touch the moldy area with the cutting knife or your fingers. Wears safety gloves to avoid cross-contamination. Cut at least 1 inch (2.5 cm) around and below the moldy area.

Firm fruits and veggies: For example, apples, bell peppers, and carrots

Hard cheese: Irrespective of whether mold was part of the processing of cheese or not.

Hard salami and dry-cured country hams 

Foods you should discard

Soft fruits and veggies: For example strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes.

Soft cheeses: such as cottage cheese and cream cheese. This is irrespective o the fact that the processing of the cheese involved using a mold or not.

Bread and baked goods

Cooked foods: such as casseroles, meat, pasta, grains.

Jams and jellies: Mold-contaminated jams and jellies may be poisonous due to the presence of mycotoxins.

Peanut butter, legumes, and nuts: No preservative food is more prone to mold growth.

Deli meats, bacon, hot dogs

Yogurt and sour cream 

Mold is sud to make certain foods

Old can also be beneficial. A mold of the genus Penicillium is used to make different types of cheese such as blue cheese, Gorgonzola, Brie, and Camembert. 

Similarly, koji molds, including Aspergillus oryzae, are used in the manufacturing of fermented soy sauce and Japanese drink sake. Penicillium roqueforti manufactures the blue cheese.

Conclusion

In this article, we will answer the question “Can eating mold kill you?”, and what is mold?

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-moldy-food-dangerous#TOC_TITLE_HDR_6
https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/what-happens-if-you-eat-mold

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.