It’s happened to all of us at one time or another. You make yourself a sandwich. You’re enjoying it quietly and suddenly you realize that the bread you’ve already taken a few bites of has a few green or blue spots on it. Ugh, now what? This is what can happen to you when you eat mold.
What Happens if You Eat Moldy Bread?
The short answer, in the case of bread, is nothing or mostly nothing. The mold that grows on bread is virtually harmless to people as long as our immune system is working as it should. We will simply digest it. The only danger of mold growing on bread is if we are allergic to it. It is rare, but in that case we could suffer from digestive or even respiratory disorders of varying severity. There have been sporadic cases of people who have died from eating moldy bread, but all of them were allergic and had weakened immune systems due to some condition.
To remove mold or not
Just because it’s not particularly dangerous doesn’t mean it’s healthy. If you discover that your bread has mold on it, it’s not a good idea to keep eating it. Nor does it work if you try to remove the spots and eat the rest. The green specks are only the visible part of the fungal colony. Beneath it is a complex web of roots called hyphae that are not visible to the naked eye and occupy much more surface area. Whether we are allergic or not, it is better to get rid of the bread.
Things get more complicated when we find mold on another food. There are tens of thousands of mold species, and some of them are dangerous because they generate mycotoxins, which are nothing more than toxic substances generated by the fungus. About 400 mycotoxins are known and some of them are potentially deadly. Others are not dangerous if we eat them once or twice, but if we eat them continuously they are carcinogenic for the liver (aflatoxins) or kidneys (ochratoxins).
In general, the softer the food, the more likely it is that the mold hyphae have rooted very deep and affected the whole food. That is why it is not recommended to remove the mold from the surface of, for example, a jar of jam and eat what is left underneath. Chances are that it is contaminated as well.
Food that is better to throw away
According to American Mold Experts, this is the list of foods that should be immediately discarded if we detect that they have mold on their surface:
- Sausages and smoked meats such as bacon or sausage meats.
- Any cooked or stewed meats
- Grains and legumes or pasta
- Soft moldy cheeses
- Sour creams or cheese spreads
- Jams and jellies
- Soft fruits and vegetables (peaches, tomatoes…)
- Nuts and nut butters
The only foods that can be saved once the mold grows on them are some cheeses and very hard salted meats (sausage, cured cheese…) and also hard vegetables such as carrots or pumpkin. In these cases it is possible to cut a portion around the mushroom colony and eat the rest. In any case, it is best to dispose of the contaminated food.