You might have grown up in a household where leftovers were quickly tossed out after a few days if not eaten right away. That’s because mold grows on food rapidly, even when refrigerated.

Depending on the ingredients of leftovers, food can grow moldy at different rates. Molds on fruit can be just as hazardous to your health and can make you sick.

Eating moldy food can have several negative consequences. If you’ve ever wondered,  will eating mold make you sick or can moldy bread make you sick, it can. Here are just a few symptoms you might face if you accidentally ate mold:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain & discomfort
  • Acute nausea
  • Excessive gassiness
  • Headaches
  • Watery eyes
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Congestion
  • Itchy skin

Individuals who suffer from chronic illnesses that weaken the immune system, like lupus or HIV/AIDs, can experience more severe symptoms, such as respiratory distress, shock, hives, vertigo, confusion, and even death.

Where can you find mold?

Mold is not limited to the surface of the food. Usually, when we see grey or green fuzz, we know food has grown moldy. What you don’t see are the “root” threads that grow deep and wide below the surface.

Sometimes, poisonous substances are found within these threads, and in some cases, these toxins can spread throughout the food.

In general, mold can be found in any environment, both indoors and outdoors. Its growth is promoted by warm, humid climates, and most often in shady, damp areas with heavy vegetation. That’s why it’s always wise to run the air conditioner indoors, to decrease the humidity levels.

Some beneficial molds

Believe it or not, there are some molds that are beneficial, but they are not associated with what could be growing on your leftovers in the refrigerator after five days. Molds are used to make certain types of cheeses like Stilton, Gorgonzola, and Roquefort, just to name a few. The molds used to create these types of cheeses are safe.

eating moldy food

Minimize mold growth

The best way to minimize mold growth is cleanliness. If you aren’t careful, mold spores can easily and quickly develop in the refrigerator, on dish clothes, and cleaning utensils.

A sure sign of the presence of mold is a musty smell. Cleaning out the refrigerator every few months will help keep mold spore growth at bay. Mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with water or adding bleach to water helps disinfect specific surfaces. Regularly washing towels, dishcloths, mops, and cleaning utensils can keep mold from spreading.

Get rid of containers that you aren’t able to clean well and maintain low humidity levels in the house. Keep in mind: these methods are not always effective for killing mold on certain areas, such as on drywall, caulking, ceiling, etc.

Protect your food from mold

Using plastic wraps and foil paper to cover foods you want to remain moist will protect your food from the mold. If you’ve opened canned goods, make sure to put their contents into a separate bowl with a lid so that it will remain fresh.

All perishable items should be placed in the refrigerator after two hours and leftovers should be discarded in at least 4 days. Molds on fruit are never a welcome sight, so it’s best to protect fruits, vegetables, greens, and salads with plastic wrap.

Handling certain foods with mold

Certain foods should be handled differently. Not all foods need to be discarded since some can still be used. Generally, foods with high moisture content have a tendency to grow moldy quickly and may have bacteria growing with them.

Shelf-stable products can still be used if they grow surface mold. A quick surface scrub will restore their freshness. Also, foods without preservatives or that were not created in the typical manufacturing process can be contaminated. Below is a list of foods and how they should be handled if you find mold on them.

Hard cheeseUse! Simply cut off at least one inch around the mold and cover in plastic wrap for later use.
Cooked leftover meatDiscard
Hard salamiUse! Simply scrub mold off the surface.
Cooked casserolesDiscard
Yogurt and sour creamDiscard
Firm fruits and veggiesUse! Simply cut off at least 1 inch around the mold and cover in plastic wrap for later use.
Soft fruits and veggiesDiscard
Jams and jelliesDiscard

This table is a quick synopsis of how to handle foods with mold and clarifies the misconceptions around when it is safe to eat moldy food.

Another great way to prevent your food from growing moldy is to buy small amounts to ensure it is used right away. Sniffing moldy food can cause respiratory issues, so it’s best not to smell moldy foods. However, do check the surrounding foods to make sure they have not grown moldy as well.

At Mr. Mold, we pride ourselves on excellent customer service and knowledge sharing. And most importantly, we care about the well being of our customers who face challenges with mold daily. Reach out to us with questions or share your stories and experiences with us on Facebook.

Need a water mitigation, mold assessment, or mold remediation?

Schedule your service today, so we can get your home back to good health.