There is nothing more frustrating than finding a food item you have been keeping for a special meal now has moldy spots all over it. A great number of people discard the item while a smaller fraction decide to cut off the moldy parts and then go on to consume the seemingly normal parts.
Well, none of the choices are wrong; it's just that second can pose grave danger to your health. According to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, there are four kinds of foods that you can eat even when they're moldy and 6 that you must always discard if so.
Foods That Still Safe To Eat Even When Moldy
1. Dry-cured Hams
Experts say it is normal to find molds on the surface of dry-cured hams and that it is still safe for consumption. All you have to do is scrub the mold off the cured ham before cooking.
2. Firm fruits and vegetables
Firm fruits and vegetables that contain low moisture like cabbage, bell peppers and carrots can be eaten even if they bear a few moldy spots. Just trim off at least 1 inch around the moldy spots to avoid contaminating the knife.
3. Hard salami
Food safety experts explain that the white coating around certain hard salamis is actually a dusting of a benign mold which helps cure the salami and protect it from bacteria.
4. Hard cheeses made without mold (e.g. cheddar cheese)
If you see moldy spots on your hard cheese, trim them off. Make sure to keep the knife away from the molds; cut at least 1 inch around the moldy spot and re-cover the cheese in a clean wrapping.
Reminder: Certain cheeses made with mold, such as Gorgonzola, are safe for consumption, even if you notice mold. Still, keep an eye out for molds not used to make the cheese.
Foods That Should Be Discarded When Moldy
1. Jams and jellies
At the sight of moldy growth in jams and jellies, discard them immediately. This is because the mold that grows in jams or jellies may produce a mycotoxin, which exposes you to health risks even if you eat them after trimming the mold.
2. Fruits and vegetables with high moisture content
Soft fruits like peaches should be discarded when moldy as moldy growths develop quickly below the surface.
3. Bread and baked goods
Baked goods with mold should not be eaten as they commonly cause deadly infections. One of the common culprits is Rhizopus stolonifer, also called black bread mold, known to cause deadly infections.
4. Peanut butter, legumes, and nuts
Peanut butter, legumes, and nuts are commonly made without the addition of preservatives and this promotes the growth of molds that may release dangerous toxins.
5. Soft cheeses and crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses
Soft cheeses should be thrown away if moldy as their high moisture content makes it easier for contamination to spread. Cheeses that are crumbled, shredded or sliced and have mold on them should also be discarded because it is possible they were contaminated by the cutting instrument.
Like other foods with high moisture content, yogurt easilys develops mold.
Not all moldy foods can be eaten ( moldy baked goods are especially high-risk). However, there are a few food items (i.e. dry-cured ham, hard salami, hard cheese, firm fruits and vegetables) that are safe for consumption even when moldy. Just make sure to trim off the molds.