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Food poisoning from mold

Updated April 03, 2017

Mold on food may have the potential to cause food poisoning. Proper handling of mouldy foods depends on the type of food and the extent of the growth.

Mold Definition

Mold is a fungus that grows on and consumes organic matter such as food. It spreads by spores and often has threads called hyphae that spread throughout the food.

Types of Food Mold

Dozens of types of mould are known to grow on food, and may appear as white, black, greenish, and other colours. It may be fuzzy or slimy in texture.

Dangers of Moldy Food

Mold on food can cause allergic or breathing problems, but the main danger is from mycotoxins. Mycotoxins are poisonous substances made by some types of mould.

Safety of Moldy Food

Food completely covered with mould should be discarded. If only a small amount of mould is present, it can be cut off and the food safely eaten for these products: hard salami, dry-cured meats, hard cheese and firm fruits and vegetables.

Foods to Discard

If even a small amount of mould is present, certain foods should be discarded. They include bread, soft dairy products (e.g., cream cheese, yoghurt), cooked pasta, cooked fruits or vegetables, jelly, lunch meat, soft produce (e.g., strawberries, tomatoes) and nuts.

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About the Author

Robyn Broyles is a freelance writer focusing on medical, science, health, and philosophy topics. She is also a copy editor and writes tips and advice for other writers. She holds a Bachelor of Science in zoology, summa cum laude, and lives in Houston, Texas.