What If You Eat Mold By Accident? – You open the fridge to have a bite, but your food looks strange. Grey, fluffy and definitely unappetizing. What is that? Your peach resembles a really bad Santa Claus – it’s grown a dirty kind of fur; or maybe even – alien life forms have been implanted into it? Well, kind of. It was assaulted by mold and just gave in.
I’m sure everyone’s seen mold on food at some point. Its spores are everywhere around us, and they fly in the air looking for a nice warm and damp place to live and grow. When a mold spore sits down on a wet surface, it grows thin fibers that tangle and form that grey and fluffy fungus we’re used to seeing. You wonder where it came from in the first place? Well, mold is much, much older than humans.
It’s a real moldy oldy — appearing on Earth 200 million years ago, and there’s no way we could get rid of it altogether. But hey, it’s not all bad. You just need to know how to tell the good mold from the old bold mold. The dangerous kinds of mold can have a different impact on a human body – from allergies to poisonings.
It’s next to impossible to know the degree of danger of different kinds of mold just by looking at it. But almost all the mold that appears on products in your home, not under special conditions, is bad. Good mold includes the fungus cultures Penicillium and Botrytis cinerea, which add flavor to cheeses, salami, some beverages and other products.
The growth of good mold is kept under control by certain technology. These kinds of mold are good for your health: they help the intestines work, and lower the risk of cardiovascular issues. They’re also a natural preservative for products. A lot of products become better because of mold. The mold fungi help them to grow ripe and give zest to their flavor.
Cheeses can have 3 kinds of mold: blue, white and red. How patriotic! Blue mold is put inside the cheese to ripen; and white and red can grow on the product’s surface if special conditions are created. These moldy cheeses are rich in proteins, phosphor, and amino acids; and the calcium in them is digested easier, thanks to the mold. But they’re not good for children, pregnant women, or people having intestinal issues.
Mold that appears suddenly on the surface of hard cheeses can be dangerous. Apart from that, if the storage conditions aren’t maintained, dangerous fungi can even appear on products with good mold.
Soy sauce. The fermentation process of soy beans, which is necessary to make soy sauce, happens due to the fungi Aspergillus fumigatus. In ancient times, Europeans who attempted to prepare it failed, because they didn’t use fungi in the recipe. The sauce is rich in amino acids and minerals, but can cause an allergy in children under 5 and pregnant women.
Salami. The mold covering salami has several functions:it gives a unique flavor to the meat, prevents it from drying out too quickly, serves asa natural preservative, and is a sign that the ripening process is finished.
Citric acid. Although citric acid can be made using lemon or pineapple juice, it can also be produced with the help of black mold, or Aspergillus niger, which is fed with glucose and sucrose,and creates acid. This is actually a cheaper way to make citric acid.
Ok, now we know which mold is good. But what will happen if you eat food with mold on it that grew in your own fridge?
When found inside a human body, mycotoxins causedifferent diseases – both chronic, and those that develop quickly and are life threatening. The first cases of mass infection caused by mycotoxins were registered in Great Britainin 1960, when more than 100,000 turkeys and other bird species got ill suddenly. That same year in America, an epidemic struck on trout farms.
Scientists didn’t know about the toxic effect of mold fungi at that time, but the research showed that the illness had been caused by infected products used as food for birds and fish. To prevent this from happening again, products that are sold in supermarkets are checked for mold on a regular basis.
But you should remember that a damaged package, improper storage, and keeping food after the expiration date can allow mold to form. Mycotoxins can damage human health in 2 ways: when a big dose gets inside the body all at once; or when a large amount of it has gathered in the body over time. The first case would be considered acute poisoning, which damages the liver.
Poison suppresses the creation of protein, and toxic matters damage liver cells and replace them with fat cells. This type of poisoning happens very quickly and can lead to irreversible consequences in as little as 2 days. Children, elderly people, and people with a low immunity are at the highest risk.
It would be accompanied by symptoms like headache, ache in the liver area, leg spasms, shakiness,weakness, and loss of appetite. When toxins accumulate over time, they cause diseases gradually. The liver would be, again, the main target of accumulated toxins. It wouldn’t be a good idea to test the toxic effect of mold on yourself: you risk having an allergy or seriously poisoning yourself.
But are there products that can be saved? And which ones do you need to throw away immediately? You need to throw away soft, wet products, in which mold grows quickly. Even if there’s a small clean spot on the moldy product, mycelium, which can’t be seen, has damaged it to the root. Don’t try to save:
– processed meat
– dairy products
– soft cheeses with mold. Usually “alien” mold looks different from the good one. If you’ve noticed that a new kind of mold has appeared on the product, it’s dangerous.
– Cooked dishes
– Soft fruit, vegetables, berries
– Bread. As for hard products, they can still be saved, since mold doesn’t grow that quickly inside them.
You can cut off the damaged part and eat the rest of it:
– Hard cheeses. Cut the mold off Parmesan or Cheddar with a half an inch of undamaged cheese. You need to wash the knife so you don’t spread mycelium to the rest of the product. Then cover it with a new piece of plastic or paper.
– Hard vegetables and fruit: it’s difficult for mold to eat up carrots or cabbage. That’s why, if you cut off the upper layer, you can use these vegetables.
– Raw cured meat: mold that appears on the surface of these products isn’t dangerous for the inner layers of meat, but you still shouldn’t eat it.
Apart from that, there are products where the most toxic kinds of mold appear. Don’t eat apples, apple juice, or nuts, damaged by mold. The inner structure of peanuts isn’t that hard because of vegetable fats. Not every product sold in supermarkets is checked for mold, only some samples. That means you need to be pay attention to the way products look before buying them.
Don’t buy it if you notice any of these signs:
– Condensation inside the package, which hints at improper storage
– The product is close to or past its sell-by date
– The product doesn’t look fresh Nuts should be golden or brown, without any stains or strange odors.
Buy fruit and vegetables fresh, without soft edges or rotten spots. But this isn’t a 100% guarantee. Mold can be hidden inside the core of an apple or beneath the shell of an apricot stone. Cut the fruits into pieces to make sure that they don’t have mold inside. Keep nuts and dried fruit in a dry, dark, and cool place. High temperatures and moisture make it easy for mold to grow.
If it does appear, don’t try to brush it off. And, mold is resistant to high temperatures, so there’s no use in frying or heating the nuts – the toxins will stay there. Moreover, try not to buy food for future use. There’ll be fewer chances that it gets spoiled if you don’t keep it in the fridge for weeks. How about you? Are you sick of those puns? Do you throw away food when you see mold on it? Let me know down in the comments.