If you have ever been tempted to rescue mould-edged bread and those suspiciously white-furred strawberries or a half mouldy lemon, it may be best to stay your knife and just trash the whole lot.
Mould is notoriously tricky to banish and when it comes to food, it’s likely to have spread further than you can see.
Porous foods, such as breads and cakes are particularly susceptible to these invisible spores and soft fruits and dairy items are just as dicey.
Dr Ailsa Hocking, of CSIRO Agriculture and Food in Australia, says it’s just not worth the risk.
“If you can see a mould growing, there can be other microbes such as bacteria and yeast in the food as well,” she says.
However, she also explains that it’s not a one size fits all stance. Hard cheese, she says, can be salvaged by cutting around the affected area.
So, how do the two differ?
It boils down to the density of the mouldy food. A hard cheese has low moisture content and a dense structure, meaning the spores are unlikely to spread into invisible areas.
Hard salami and firm fruit and veg can also be salvaged, while other foods that should be binned include jams and other spreads, luncheon meat and bacon, nuts and legumes.
But if you’re thinking of taking the risk to save a few dollars, Dr Hocking says chowing down on mould-ridden food could lead to some pretty serious illnesses.
Although it is rare, the toxins in mould can cause excessive sweating, tremors, muscle weakness, twitching, headache, fever and vomiting. Or you could get mild to severe food poisoning.
And, heating or freezing your food won’t kill the mould, either. It can just as easily survive through both extremes. Yikes!
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