Dr. Dean

Mold Dos And Don'ts

Posting Date: 09/01/1999

What do you do when you find mold on food: scrape it off, eat it, or throw it away?

As you probably know, some molds are good and some are bad. For example, the mold on Roquefort and other blue cheeses are safe.

However, some of the fuzzy molds that grow on food can be toxic; they can make you ill, especially if you?re already in frail health.

Molds on grains may be the worst for your health, according to a report on the subject in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter. Here are some tips the publication gives on dealing with moldy foods:

  • If small fruits such as grapes or berries are moldy, discard them. If only a few are moldy, the rest are probably okay to eat, but look them over carefully. One tip is to not wash fruit until it?s ready to eat, since moisture promotes moldiness.

  • In large, hard fruits or vegetables it?s okay to cut out small areas of mold. However, check out the produce in the store and try not to buy moldy apples, potatoes, cauliflower, etc. A tip is that produce should be used quickly to avoid moldy growth. Keeping the produce in a refrigerator helps discourage mold.

  • Moldy soft cheese or yogurt should definitely be discarded.

  • You can cut molds off of hard cheese, but cut widely - take away at least an inch from the mold. Later, rinse the cheese and rewrap in fresh paper. If cheese is heavily molded, throw it away.

  • Throw away all moldy bread and grain products, as well as moldy meats, leftovers, peanut butter, nuts, syrups, jams, jellies and soft fruit such as melons or peaches.

Remember, mold toxins are not destroyed by cooking. They can spread throughout the food without being visible. So here's a good rule of thumb: if you?re unsure or about a moldy food, throw it away.

Source: UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, September 1999