People need to be aware of the risks associated with eating food with mould on it. According to a media report on FoodSafetyNews.com customers in The United States were upset when they bought Greek style yoghurt in cups which had been affected by common mould.
The company called “Chobani” has recalled the infected portion of yoghurt cups after customers complained about bloated cups and a foul smell being given off. The yoghurt also had a bad, off smelling taste which the company assured consumers was an “isolated quality concern”. There were also claims that some customers became sick which led the company to issue the recall.
The incident made me weary about the risks of eating mouldy food. How dangerous is it? Can we actually become ill from eating mould, and if so, is the sickness life-threatening? This can be a confusing subject especially when you consider that certain foods are eaten mouldy such as certain cheeses? So how do we know what foods are safe to eat with mould and what isn’t?
Well most experts advise that we should stay away from mouldy foods certainly if it is food that normally is not associated with mould such as yogurt, eating mouldy yogurt would be a nasty, foul tasting experience that you would want to avoid anyway. The only foods that are normally eaten with certain mould are salami and deli meat products and certain long aged cheeses. The producers of these food items know which moulds are safe for human consumption so these moulds usually do not cause illness when eaten.
There are some moulds that are dangerous though. If you notice food is mouldy you should not eat it because it may contain poisonous substances that are produced by the moulds. Many species of such common moulds as Penicillium and Aspergillus, Alternaria, Fusarium and Cladosporium (blue, green, yellow, pink, red or black moulds) which often grow on bread, cheese, fruit and vegetables, produce these poisons, which are called mycotoxins.
There are an estimated 200 kinds of mycotoxins which are produced by 150 different types of fungi. Some of these are toxic at very low doses and many are heat stable, which means that you cannot get rid of them by cooking the food.
Aflatoxin, produced by a few species of Aspergillus, is the most carcinogenic (cancer-causing) substance known. Ochratoxin, produced by other species of Aspergillus, can cause fatal kidney disease.
Good Moulds include:
The most famous Penicillium, of course, is Penicilliumnotatum, the mould that gave the world penicillin. But its less glamorous siblings are good friends to the food industry. Penicilliumcamemberti (again) is sprayed on to camembert and brie to age them and create their white rinds, while Penicilliumroqueforti gives blue cheeses such as stilton and roquefort their veins.
Other moulds are not so beneficial. For example the genus Aspergillus, which grows on peanuts and peanut products, produces a group of toxins called aflatoxins which can cause liver cancer and cooking won’t destroy them.
So before you eat mouldy food, ask yourself whether the food was produced to intentionally facilitate and promote mould growth or has the mould just appeared on its own. If it was intentionally put there, it should be safe, if it just started to grow, it is probably bad for you so avoid it.
Old bread normally develops mould, this is not safe to eat.
Photo source: www.birding.uk.com
Many types of cheese are meant to be eaten mouldy like Brie and Blue cheese.
Photo source: www.iateBrisbane.com