There's nothing more infuriating than food going bad before you had a chance to eat it. And, that happens a lot! Many food items develop those fur-like black, green or white blotches on their surface which grosses us out even if we look at them. But, what exactly is that thing, resting on your favourite food after stealthily capturing it? It is a mold. Molds are fungi that live on food and plants. They are thread-like and produce spores that can be transported by air, water or insects and give molds their characteristic colour. Molds thrive in warm and humid climates. Tiny spores of mold are always present in the air around us but they are harmless. Once these spores reach the surface of the foods, they grow into molds.
There are many different types of molds that can grow on our food stored for a long time; the most common include Aspergillus and Penicillium, and Botrytis which you might see as a fur on your strawberries.
Is Mold Harmful?
According to consulting nutritionist Rupali Datta, "Molds may cause allergic reactions, respiratory problems and in some cases, may produce poisonous substance called mycotoxins that make people sick."
There may be times that you accidentally eat moldy food. Don't fret. Many times, molds with low potency get digested and then excreted from the body without you even noticing it. But that will happen only if you have a very strong immune system.
So to sum up, yes, most kinds of molds are harmful and you should always steer clear of them.
Does That Mean Moldy Foods Should Not Be Consumed?
Mold comes into being to break down decaying matter. So, if mold takes residence in a particular food; that simply means it has gone bad. Dr Rupali Datta shares, "Molds can grow on cooked food too as they tolerate salt and sugar. Food with mold on it should be discarded in a covered trash can after wrapping it properly. However, certain hard foods like carrots, capsicum etc. and hard cheeses - can be reused after cutting off the mouldy portion. The toxins cannot penetrate stiff structures. Make sure the knife does not touch the mold and you cut at least an inch away from the mold. All other foods like soft fruits and vegetables, soft cheeses and breads - with mold - must be discarded. Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface, which may not be even visible."
Don't try to cook the foods with molds in an attempt to salvage them. Molds are heat-resistant and so may not be destroyed during the cooking process. The safest way to escape the ill-effects of mold is to just toss it away.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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