Can you get sick from eating moldy bread?
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “Can you get sick from eating moldy bread”. Additionally, we will discuss different types of molds that can grow on bread, handling, and ways to prevent mold growth.
Can you get sick from eating moldy bread?
Yes, you can get sick from eating moldy bread. Mold can trigger allergic reactions, especially in people with a weakened immune system, and can cause harmful infections. It also gives the bread an off-flavor.
As it is impossible to know what type of mold is growing on your bread just by looking at it, so, it is better to assume that the bread is not safe for consumption and to discard it.
Although, many people may not have alarming effects after eating bread that has mold on it. However, some people can develop allergic reactions to it.
Moreover, in some rare cases, it can contain mycotoxins, which can potentially cause food poisoning if you ingest too much of them. Therefore, you should never knowingly eat or sniff it. (1-3)
Common symptoms of eating mold
If you have consumed moldy bread, you can develop symptoms within a few hours. The symptoms you should look for are the common food poisoning symptoms. These include:
Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea when ingested. The mechanism of toxicity is related to the direct toxic effects on GI mucosal surfaces.
Additionally, if you have consumed bread that contains even more dangerous kinds of mold, you may suffer from irritation in your mouth and throat. (4)
How does bread mold?
Contamination originates predominantly post baking by fungal spores being deposited from the bakery environment. Critical factors controlling the growth of undesirable fungi on foodstuffs are oxygen, temperature, pH, and water activity.
Mold is a member of the fungi family, which is different from plants and animals in a way that it uses other plants and animals as its food source. The most well-known member of the fungi family is mushrooms.
Although mold can grow on many types of foods, bread molds are common because bread provides a very desirable source of nutrients for mold growth.
Bread mold is usually visible to the human eye. It changes the color and texture of the bread. It appears on bread as a slightly fuzzy, blue, green, or white patch, especially if the bread is left uneaten for more than a few days.
Eating around the mold doesn’t work either. (1, 3)
What are the different types of bread mold?
The different types of molds are known to grow on bread are:
Rhizopus stolonifer is the most common type of bread mold. It is also known as black bread mold. It may also grow on fruits and vegetables.
Initially, It will appear as a fuzzy green or blue patch on a surface. But, if left alone, these patches will develop a black center. This mold is not dangerous but may cause mild indigestion.
Penicillium will appear as white, blue, or gray patches. If ingested, the side effects tend to be mild. However, a few types of Penicillium are known to produce mycotoxins, which may lead to chronic illnesses with time.
Cladosporium mostly affects people with allergies. If a person is continually being exposed to Cladosporium, he may report sneezing or wheezing.
Cladosporium shows up on the surface of the bread as a dark patch that can be green or black. What makes it noticeable is that it has a strong odor. Unless you have allergies, you likely won’t be harmed by consuming them. (2, 4)
How to slow down mold spoilage?
Various techniques can be employed to slow down mold spoilage in bread. These methods encompass maintaining good hygiene practices, incorporating mold inhibitors, pasteurizing after packing, or incorporating novel ingredients that inhibit mold growth.
In practice, the control of mold spoilage is typically achieved to an acceptable level in commercial settings. However, it is important to note that completely preventing mold spoilage using commercially viable techniques remains challenging. (2)
How to store bread?
To prevent mold growth on bread, you can keep it dry, as moisture encourages mold growth. If you see visible moisture inside the bread package, use a clean paper towel to dry the package before sealing it.
Generally, common mold spores can not survive baking, but bread can easily pick up spores from the environment after baking, for example, during slicing and packaging.
These spores can start to grow under the right conditions, such as in a warm and humid environment.
Keep bread covered, such as when serving it, to shield it from spores in the air. However, to avoid soggy bread and mold, don’t package fresh bread until it’s thoroughly cooled.
Vacuum-sealing is another type of bread packaging technique that removes oxygen which is needed for mold growth. Still, this bread is prone to contamination once you open the package. (1-3)
Can you refrigerate bread?
Yes. Though refrigeration slows mold growth, it also makes bread dry. Freezing bread stops the growth without altering the texture as much. Separate the slices with wax paper to make it easier to thaw only when you need.
Gluten-free bread is more susceptible to mold growth, as it typically has higher moisture content and restricted use of preservatives. For this reason, it is often sold frozen. (1-3)
Other FAQs about Bread that you may be interested in.
In this article, we have answered the question, “ Can you get sick from eating moldy bread?”, types of bread molds, and storage and handling tips.
If you’ve enjoyed ”Can you get sick from eating moldy bread?”, take a look at ”Is it safe to eat over-proofed bread?” too.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture.Food Safety Information. Washington, DC.Molds on Food: Are They Dangerous? 2013.
- Legan, J. D. Mold spoilage of bread: the problem and some solutions. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 32(1-3), 33–53. 1993.
- Axel, C., Zannini, E., & Arendt, E. K. Mold spoilage of bread and its biopreservation: A review of current strategies for bread shelf life extension. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57(16), 3528–3542. 2016.
- Fung, F., & Clark, R. F. Health Effects of Mycotoxins: A Toxicological Overview. Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology, 42(2), 217–234. 2004.