HOW TOXIC ARE CERTAIN MOLDY FOODS?
In a joined research project, food researcher Adam Ragusea consulted with Dr. Megan Biango-Daniels to distinguish between safe and dangerous types of mould. In their research the pair goes into the depth of the structure of mould, how mould is transmitted, the difference between hard and soft food moulds. The pair also elaborated on how the repeated ingestion of mycotoxins within the mould can lead to ongoing health problems.
“Eating a lot of mould all at once could make you really, really sick. In contrast, eating just a little bit of mould probably wouldn’t do very much to you at first, unless you’re allergic. But eating small amounts of mould repeatedly over many years, scientists think that could cause serious health problems, from cancer to kidney and liver disease,” the project explained.
With that, the question whether we are being to over cautious regarding mould still lingered Ragusea. Using cheese as an example, Dr. Bjango Daniels responded to Ragusea’s question and explained that the moulds used for cheese have been “domesticated”.
He explained, “Because blue cheese, the mould that you have on brie, all of those moulds have been very kind of intentionally cultivated by humans… And there’s almost now a very clear number of strains, which are used over and over for cheese producing, different varieties of cheese specifically. And we know a lot about how they’re different from their very close wild relatives.”
To explain it more simply, there are certain moulds which are not necessarily harmful in the moment however, some still have lasting effects. But, that doesn’t mean that other moulds are not toxic. So it’s best to err on the side of caution, except for cheese.
“Life is risks. Life is making choices. But one way that you can minimise your risk when it comes to food mould is to keep your susceptible foods wrapped up really, really tightly. The spores are floating around in the air, and then once they land in your food, the mould needs air to grow. But as long as there are nutrients to be had, and as long as the food isn’t too acidic or whatever, mould will happen, eventually. Life finds a way. Eat your food before something else does.”