Can you still eat moldy food? – Health

Black or greenish spots on jam, cheese or vegetables indicate mold growth. Solving it by cutting away the infested area and eating the rest does not seem like a healthy strategy. Fungi can produce toxic substances that are not easy to eradicate.

Food can not only be contaminated by substances introduced from outside by humans, such as pesticides. Toxic substances can also end up on your plate in a natural way, including through the growth of mould. “When fungi are allowed to grow on or in a food, in a number of cases they form toxic substances, so-called mycotoxins. They are not all produced by the same fungi. There are an estimated 200,000 known fungi. Of the hundreds of mycotoxins identified so far moreover, some have received a lot of attention because of their serious health effects,” says nutritionist and bioengineer Eric De Maerteleire. The consequences vary from acute food poisoning (nausea, diarrhea) at high intakes to long-term effects such as cancer. Allergic reactions and respiratory problems are also possible.

Visible

Usually, fungi that grow unwanted on food are clearly visible and indicate spoilage. They grow preferably at temperatures between 28 and 33°C, in the presence of air (oxygen), in a humid environment. This explains why fungal diseases XE “mycotoxicosis” are more common in countries with a warm and humid climate. But countries with a more temperate climate – like ours – are not spared either. Harvesting after heavy rains, storage in a poorly ventilated area, insufficient cleaning of contaminated material from the previous year, … these are conditions that promote the growth of fungi. Cereal products and their derivatives (bread, pasta…), dried fruit and vegetables, fresh fruit and derived products (juice), coffee, wine, beer and nuts are particularly sensitive to molds and mycotoxins.

“However, it is not the case that all mold growth is accompanied by the formation of dangerous mycotoxins. These toxins are formed under very specific growth conditions and within rather narrow temperature and humidity limits. But the big problem is that as a consumer it is impossible for you to know at the moment that you find such a mushroom on your food, or whether or not toxic substances have formed. You cannot infer that from the appearance of a mushroom. Therefore, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid all unwanted mushrooms.” stresses Eric De Maerteleire.

What can you do yourself?

Most mushroom toxins cause permanent health damage only if they contain a high level of toxins or with regular consumption of limited amounts. However, you can do a lot yourself to avoid contact with mycotoxins.

1. Store fresh produce in a cool and dry place. Fresh vegetables and fresh meat in the fridge and products such as herbs and bread in a dry place. Always cover the food in the refrigerator.

2. Examine whole grains (especially corn, sorghum, wheat, rice), dried figs, and tree nuts such as peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, coconuts, brazil nuts, and hazelnuts, all of which are regularly contaminated with aflatoxins (a type of toxin) for signs of mold , and throw them away if they look moldy, discolored or shriveled.

3. When an apple or other fruit shows a distinct brown mold spot, it is best to throw it away unless the spot is still very small and very localized. So it’s best to cut away enough mass around it and pay close attention to the taste. If there is still a clear difference in taste, it is better to throw away the whole fruit.

4. A jar of yogurt that shows signs of mold on the surface must be completely thrown into the trash. Research shows that in a jar of yogurt or chocolate mousse, which has a mold spot 3 to 4 mm in diameter on the surface, mycotoxins are found in a 10 cm radius around it. That usually means right down to the bottom of the jar! And the more water a food contains, the further and deeper the fungal compounds can spread. For example, it has been discovered that in a jar of jam, with mold growth on the surface, the mycotoxins can be found right down to the bottom of the jar.

5. Bread, especially whole grain products, can quickly become moldy. If mold is found inside the bread, it is best to throw the whole loaf away. Mold can be very localized, but it is not always easy to locate them. Most mold stains in bread are blue or black.

6. Do not take nuts, grains, dried fruit, herbs or dairy products from a trip outside of Europe. The control of harmful substances is less strict. You can also buy and eat these foods in Europe without worry.

Food can not only be contaminated by substances introduced from outside by humans, such as pesticides. Toxic substances can also end up on your plate in a natural way, including through the growth of mould. “When fungi are allowed to grow on or in a food, in a number of cases they form toxic substances, so-called mycotoxins. They are not all produced by the same fungi. There are an estimated 200,000 known fungi. Of the hundreds of mycotoxins identified so far moreover, some have received a lot of attention because of their serious health effects,” says nutritionist and bioengineer Eric De Maerteleire. The consequences vary from acute food poisoning (nausea, diarrhea) at high intakes to long-term effects such as cancer. Allergic reactions and respiratory problems are also possible. As a rule, molds that grow undesirably on food are clearly visible and indicate spoilage. They grow preferably at temperatures between 28 and 33°C, in the presence of air (oxygen), in a humid environment. This explains why fungal diseases XE “mycotoxicosis” are more common in countries with a warm and humid climate. But countries with a more temperate climate – like ours – are not spared either. Harvesting after heavy rains, storage in a poorly ventilated area, insufficient cleaning of contaminated material from the previous year, … these are conditions that promote the growth of fungi. Cereal products and their derivatives (bread, pasta…), dried fruit and vegetables, fresh fruit and derivatives (juice), coffee, wine, beer and nuts are particularly sensitive to molds and mycotoxins. All mold growth is accompanied by the formation of dangerous mycotoxins. These toxins are formed under very specific growth conditions and within fairly narrow temperature and humidity limits. But the big problem is that as a consumer it is impossible for you to know when you have such a mold that you find on your food, whether or not toxic substances are formed. This cannot be deduced from the appearance of the mushroom. Therefore, it is best to be on the safe side and avoid all unwanted mushrooms,” emphasizes Eric De Maerteleire. Mushroom poisons only cause permanent health damage. if they contain a high level of toxins or with regular consumption of limited amounts. However, you can do a lot yourself to avoid contact with mycotoxins. 1. Store fresh produce in a cool and dry place. Fresh vegetables and fresh meat in the refrigerator and products such as herbs and bread in a dry place. Always cover food in the refrigerator. 2. Inspect whole grains (especially corn, sorghum, wheat, rice), dried figs and tree nuts such as peanuts, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, coconuts, brazil nuts and hazelnuts, all of which are regularly contaminated with aflatoxins (a type of toxin) for signs of mold and throw them away, if they look moldy, discolored, or shriveled. 3. If an apple or other fruit shows a distinct brown mold spot, it is best to throw it away unless the spot is still very small and very localized. Then it is best to cut away enough mass around it and pay close attention to the taste. If there is still a clear difference in taste, it is better to throw away the whole fruit. 4. A jar of yogurt that shows signs of mold on the surface must be completely thrown into the trash. Research shows that in a jar of yogurt or chocolate mousse, which has a mold spot 3 to 4 mm in diameter on the surface, mycotoxins are found in a 10 cm radius around it. That usually means right down to the bottom of the jar! And the more water a food contains, the further and deeper the fungal compounds can spread. For example, it has been discovered that in a jar of jam with mold growth on the surface, the mycotoxins can be found all the way to the bottom of the jar.5. Bread, especially whole grain products, can quickly become moldy. If mold is found inside the bread, it is best to throw the whole loaf away. Mold can be very localized, but it is not always easy to locate them. Most mold stains in bread are blue or black in color. 6. Do not take nuts, grains, dried fruit, herbs or dairy products from a trip outside of Europe. The control of harmful substances is less strict. You can also buy and eat these foods in Europe without worry.

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