Can you get sick from eating moldy jam? (+5 tips)
In this article, we are going to answer the question, “Can you get sick from eating moldy jam”? as well as provide 8 tips to ensure that you store and consume your jam safely.
Can you get sick from eating moldy jam?
Yes, you can get sick from eating moldy jam. Even if you scrape the layer of mold and eat the jam beneath, which seems to appear fine, there is still a high chance of contracting foodborne illnesses..
Jam can host mycotoxin-producing mold species that can be hazardous to your health. Microbiologists recommend not to scoop out the mold and use the remains, so you should discard any moldy jam immediately. (6)
The mold that you can see in your jam has even more to it. Where the white or green fuzzy is seen on the surface, the mold has also grown root threads below. (6)
What is moldy jam and how does it look?
Moldy jam is basically jam that has been infected by various species of fungi which grow in areas that contain moisture. Because these fungi multiply rapidly, their structure can easily be seen by the naked eye.
The mold on jams spreads over the top and appears to be fuzzy and velvety in texture. These molds often produce tiny spores which may be green, white, black, or gray in color. (6)
What are the potential risks of eating moldy jam?
When jams are infected by molds, they have a high possibility of being infected by mycotoxins. Upon consuming these mycotoxins by mistake, one may have to face adverse effects including food poisoning, immune deficiency, and even cancer. (7)
Consuming food products contaminated with mycotoxins can lead to acute effects characterized by the rapid onset of severe symptoms of illness.
The main mycotoxins found in jams are aflatoxins, ochratoxins (8) and patulin. Patulin is frequently found in apple jams (9).
Aflatoxins are produced by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus, and are one of the most poisonous mycotoxins. Large amounts of aflatoxins can cause acute poisoning, damage to the liver, cancer and be life threatening. (7)
Ochratoxin is produced by species of Aspergillus and Penicillium. It can cause kidney damage and negative effects on the immune system and on fetal development. (7)
Patulin comes from species of Aspergillus, Penicillium and Byssochlamys. Some symptoms include nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances and vomiting. (7)
How to store and consume jam safely?
Here are 8 tips on how to store and consume jam safely:
- Clean the fridge often, at least once a month to avoid creating potential places for the growth of mold. (6)
- Make sure to close the lid of the jar tightly to avoid letting in any air or moisture inside.
- Store your store-bought unopened jam in a cool, dark and dry place. (10)
- An opened jar of jam should be kept in the refrigerator at 40°F or lower. (10)
- Regularly examine the jam and the container during use and check for possibilities of contamination.
- For homemade jams, make sure that the jars or cans that are going to be used for storage are properly sterilized and dried before putting the jam in. (10)
- Although many advocate scraping off the layer of mold, to safely eat the remaining jam, the USDA highly recommends to immediately discard the jar of jam, even if the mold is seen on the surface.
- If your jam has visible mold on it, don’t try to smell it. This can allow any moldy spores their way into your respiratory system and cause respiratory troubles. (6)
What are the signs of spoiled jam?
Certain indicators tell whether or not your jam has gone bad. You should pay attention to the appearance, consistency, smell, and taste of the jam.
Always check the lid and seal of your jam. The presence of an unsealed lid on a jar can be an indication of spoilage, even in the absence of other visible signs. The growth of spoilage bacteria and yeast can generate gas, resulting in increased pressure within the food container, causing the lids to swell and the jar seals to break. (1,2)
Mold or yeast growth may develop on your jam, producing off-odors and flavors (3), as an indicator of spoilage.
If the consistency of the jam has become watery or softer, or it is separating into solid and water, it might indicate that the pectin in the jam is breaking down.
The water loss and its accumulation on the surface may become a favorable environment for microbial growth. (4, 5)
If the smell of the jam is sour, foul, or yeast-like, it is an indication that your jam has gone bad and you should discard it.
In this article, we have answered “can you get sick from eating moldy jam” as well as provided 8 tips to ensure that you store and consume your jam safely.
Other FAQs about Jam that you may be interested in.
- University of Missouri. How to determine spoilage in home-canned goods. Preserve it Fresh, Preserve it Safe: 2021, No.2.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation. General Canning Information.
- Sahu, M., Bala, S., Food processing, food spoilage and their prevention: an overview. Int. J. Life Sci. Scienti. Res., 3(1): 753-759.
- Rubinskiene, M., Speiciene, V., Leskauskaite, D., Viskelis, P. Effect of black currant genotype on the quality and rheological properties of jams. Journal of Food, Agriculture & Environment.
- Kavaya, R.I., Omwamba, M.N., Chikamai, B.N., Mahungu, S.M. Sensory Evaluation of Syneresis Reduced Jam and Marmalade Containing Gum Arabic from Acacia senegal var. kerensis. Food and Nutrition Sciences.
- United States Department of Agriculture. Molds on Food: Are they dangerous?. Food Safety and Inspection Service.
- World Health Organization. Mycotoxins.
- Škrbić, B., Antić, I., Cvejanov, J. Determination of mycotoxins in biscuits, dried fruits and fruit jams: an assessment of human exposure. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo RIsk Assess.
- Olsen, M., Lindqvist, R., Bakeeva, A., Leong, S. L., Sulyok, M. Distribution of mycotoxins produced by Penicillium spp. inoculated in apple jam and crème fraiche during chilled storage. International Journal of Food Microbiology.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation. Making Jams and Jellies.