Is Moldy Food Dangerous?
I know why you’re here. There can only be one reason why you now find yourself reading an incredibly informative and superbly written article on moldy cheese.
You’ve bought into the American Dream, haven’t you? What was it? Student loans? A new car? Don’t tell me–the new iPhone? Look, it’s none of my business. We’ll just say you “fell on hard times.”
Moments ago, you were standing in your kitchen, holding a package of moldy cheese with a desperate glint in your eyes. Those “hard times” are all fun and games until your stomach growls, huh? I understand. Adulting your way through the American Dream is bad enough without having to budget in groceries, too.
What else have you got? Condiments. Cereal, but no milk. Hmm. That just won’t do. Back to the cheese. It’s not too bad, is it?
“It’s just a little white mold on cheese,” you tell yourself as you turn it over for a better look. Maybe it won’t taste as sour as it smells after you give it a good scraping. Perhaps there are still some heels left from your Wonder Bread that you can muffle that potent moldy cheese with.
For years you’ve lived in luxury and entitlement, casting off the heel of the bread loaves like they were nothing but duck fodder. The Devil’s Elbow, you would call it as you discarded it in favor of a new loaf. Time and time again, you rejected with disgust what will now be your hunger’s salvation. The irony is not lost on you. You chuckle to yourself as you reach for the near-empty bread bag.
Extracting the heels with a new sense of appreciation, you decide to do a little arithmetic.
20 Slices Per Loaf (18=Edible, 2=Devil’s Elbow)
2 Unwanted Butts/Week
1 Week=$0.24 Financial Waste
1 Year=$12.48 Financial Waste
30 Years=$374.40 Financial Waste
Lifetime=$982.17 Financial Waste
To your astonishment, you discover that your extravagant disdain for bread butts over the years has led you down the path of serious financial waste. In thirty years of butt-trashing, you wasted the equivalent of a Playstation 4. Later, if this behavior continues, you won’t be reminiscing about your loved ones or your childhood as you lie on your death bed. Instead, you’ll be consumed with regret as you recount your 78 years of bread-butt hating. Seventy-eight years? Why, that kind of waste is equal to flushing a brand new iPhone X! “From now on,” you vow, “I will appreciate butts of all shapes and sizes and quit being wasteful.”
Inspired, you hum to yourself as you begin assembling your pitiful sandwich. You’ve already scraped the moldy cheese so you gently and mindlessly fold it into your newly-appreciated Wonder Butt Bread. Ah, the moment has arrived! Your stomach angry, your nose plugged, you bite into your American Dream sandwich. White mold on cheese? Nah, you can’t taste it at all, especially since the “mold on bread” flavor is so intense. Wait, what?!
Your hand instantly recoils from your sandwich. In an effort to avoid another taste of that American Dream, every muscle fibre of your tongue performs a surgical ballet to remove the horror. You’re able to spit it into the trash and rinse your mouth out with tap water. Feeling dejected, you toss the evil sandwich away, too. On the bright side, you’re no longer hungry.
Your paranoia gets the best of you. You reach out to your good friend Google. From relationship advice to cute cats to Hillary memes, Google’s never let you down. You type in “I ate moldy cheese,” followed by “mold on bread.” “I ate moldy cheese” yields hope when sites like Prevention promise: “…it’s totally safe to remove the moldy area and keep eating.” You sigh in relief but continue reading: “But with soft foods like Brie, bread, or grapes, you should toss the entire thing in the trash.” Fear takes its hold as you glance over at the trash bin containing the American Nightmare. It was a white, soft cheese and a white, soft bread, wasn’t it?
Next, “mold on bread” brings you to the Imagination Station website, where you are appalled to discover that the “colorful mold you see on the surface of food is just the tip of what is going on inside….Just like plants, mold has roots below the surface that can travel deep into the food….Because the colorful spores on the surface of your food are just part of the mold, scraping or cutting this part off of your bread or bagel won’t save you from eating a mouthful of fungus.”
At that moment, your cheek itches. You give a show of calm composure as you reach up and scratch, but not even you’re convinced. Quickly, you type in “side effects of eating bad cheese,” thinking that itch is precisely that—one of the side effects of eating bad cheese. You find The Cheesy Times website, which explains how E. Coli and Salmonella often grow alongside moldy cheese and make matters even worse. You read of compromised immune systems and intestinal issues, such as chronic Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). “Welp, that’s it! I’ll be on the toilet the rest of my life,” you say.
“I accidentally ate moldy bread” leads you to the Digg site where a professor of food microbiology warns of moldy bread consumption. You learn that some people get “irritations in the mouth, throat and nose,” or worse: “shock, hemorrhaging or necrosis.” Your throat suddenly feels dry. Your stomach gurgles. You quickly search “symptoms of eating moldy bread” only to find “nausea, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea with abdominal pain” on every suggested site. Your eyes dart to the bathroom. Remembering how much you still owe Rent-A-Center for your furniture, you decide that prevention is best. You get up and make your way to the toilet. “Might as well be proactive,” you tell yourself as you take the Western position. Without shame, you continue your moldy Google search on the porcelain throne with the smartphone that costs only 35-years-worth of wasted bread butts. (You’re still paying that off, too.)
Your next search involves “types of bread mold.” Maybe the bread butt mold was a benign, friendly type and there’s still hope for your bowels. You soon learn of mycotoxins, aflatoxins, allergic reactions to Penicillium, and the significant dangers of toxigenic bread molds like Aspergillus. Then, there’s Cladosporium, Alternaria, Botrytis, Geotrichum, Monilia, Fusarium, Manoscus, Mortierella, Oidium, Mucor, Neurospora, Oosproa, and Rhizopus. The effects of Rhizopus stolonifer aren’t too bad, but what color was the mold you ate? Was it black or dark blue-green? Did it look fuzzy? Oh, you can’t remember! You’re tempted to leave your throne and dig through the trash to find out but you’re reminded of the vomiting and bloody diarrhea you just read about. “It’s best to stay put, just in case,” you say.
There’s 15% battery remaining on your phone. Your next search better give you some closure. Before long, you stumble across MoldBlogger.com. It’s there that you discover article after article, warning you of the dangers of molds in all forms and supplying you with credible solutions to every-day mold problems. Soon, you find this article, detailing an experience very similar to yours. It’s uncanny really and you resist the urge to check over your shoulder to see if a MoldBlogger author is watching you. (We are.)
You continue perusing through the article and discover that, at the most, the worst symptoms you might experience (from a single bite that was quickly spit out) are cold- or flu-like and will pass shortly. It is repetitive exposure to food molds that causes the most lasting damage. As time passes and exposure continues, some “benign” molds can develop an allergenic response in the body, allergenic molds can become pathogenic, and pathogenic molds can become carcinogenic (cancer-causing). Therefore, while all molds have the potential to wreak havoc on the human body, a single-dose of mold on bread or moldy cheese won’t debilitate you for life or even necessarily kill you. The only exceptions are 1. a pre-existing health condition, and 2. a compromised immune system. Even then, there are solutions to overcoming mold exposure, no matter how toxic. For example, an anti-fungal diet will support the body in healing and ridding itself of mold. Avoiding sugars, meats, dairy, and processed foods is not just a good idea if you are, indeed, hosting mold in your body, it’s also a good idea to abstain from such foods for the remainder of the day after you’ve mistakenly eaten mold. Dark leafy greens and colorful vegetables are a good choice after such a poor one. “Unfortunately,” you say, “I’m broke and don’t get paid until tomorrow.” Reading on, you discover that water fasting is another excellent way to rid the body of mold and yeast, considering the body is a self-healing machine.
“If you accidentally ate moldy bread or moldy cheese,” concludes the author, “don’t panic.”
You heave a sigh of relief and renounce your porcelain throne.
About the Author: Amanda Demsky is the mother and personal chef of two boys, the domestic technician of a three-bedroom desert home, and occasionally, a freelance writer and editor. Feel free to follow her on Twitter fullquiver777.