Mould on Food Causes, Dangers, and Prevention healthcare nt sickcare

Mould on Food Causes, Test, and Treatment

Moulding on food is a common problem that most people have encountered at some point in their lives. Mould, which is a type of fungus, grows on food when it is exposed to air and moisture. While some types of mould are harmless, others can be dangerous to your health. In this blog post, we will explore the causes, dangers, and prevention of mould in food.

Mould or Mold, Which is correct?

Both "mould" and "mold" are correct spellings for this term, with "mould" being the preferred spelling in British English and "mold" being more common in American English.

The basic definitions are the same - a mould or mold is a type of fungus that grows as multicellular filaments and reproduces via spores. Moulds/molds are found both indoors and outdoors and can grow on many surfaces and foods.

Some key facts on the two spellings:

  • "Mould" comes from the Old English term "molde", while "mold" stems from the Old Norse term "mola". Over time both spellings have remained in use.
  • In today's English, Brits and Canadians primarily use "mould" in all its definitions - referring to cavity shaping, fungal growth, etc.
  • Americans mostly use "mold", although "mould" may be found occasionally in scientific contexts or while quoting British texts.

Both "mould" and "mold" can be used with the same meaning. "Mould" prevails in British English while "mold" is more popular in American English, but the spellings are interchangeable across all forms of English. As long as the term is spelled consistently within a text, either variant is technically correct.

Common Foods which Easily Attract Mould

Mould is a type of fungus that can grow on various foods. Some of the most common foods that are susceptible to mould growth include:

  1. Bread: Mould can grow on bread quickly if it is not stored properly.
  2. Cheese: Soft cheeses such as blue cheese, Roquefort, and Camembert are particularly prone to mould growth.
  3. Nuts: Nuts such as peanuts, almonds, and cashews can develop mould if they are not stored correctly.
  4. Fruit: Fruit such as strawberries, grapes, and raspberries are often prone to mould growth.
  5. Vegetables: Vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers can develop mould if they are not stored in a cool, dry place.
  6. Meat: Processed meats such as salami and ham can also develop mould.

It is important to be aware of the signs of mould growth on food and to discard any food that shows visible signs of mould. Mould can produce allergens and toxins that can cause food allergies or other health problems, so it is best to avoid consuming mouldy food.

Causes of Mould on Food

Mould spores are present everywhere in the air and on surfaces, including on the food we eat. The growth of mould on food is caused by a combination of factors, including:

  1. Moisture: Mould needs moisture to grow, so foods with high water content are more likely to become mouldy. This includes fruits, vegetables, and bread.
  2. Warmth: Mould thrives in warm environments, so food that is stored in warm areas or at room temperature is more likely to become mouldy.
  3. Oxygen: Mould requires oxygen to grow, which is why it is more common in food that is exposed to air.
  4. Time: The longer food is left unused, the more likely it is to develop mould.

Dangers of Mould on Food

While some types of mould on food are harmless, others can be dangerous to your health. Some dangers of eating mouldy food include:

  1. Allergic reactions: Some people are allergic to certain types of mould and can experience allergic reactions when they consume mouldy food.
  2. Toxins: Some types of mould produce mycotoxins, which can cause serious health problems such as liver damage, cancer, and neurological disorders.
  3. Infections: Mould can cause infections in people with weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, children, and people with chronic illnesses.

Test after Eating Mouldy Food

Here are some recommendations if you have eaten food containing mold:

  • Monitor your symptoms - Look out for signs of food poisoning like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever or abdominal pain in the hours after consumption. Seek medical attention if symptoms are severe. Mild symptoms may resolve on their own.
  • Consider getting tested - If you have concerning symptoms, it is reasonable to get tested for potential infections. Stool testing can identify bacteria like E. coli, Salmonella or Staphylococcus from contaminated food. Blood tests can look for signs of systemic infection.
  • Identify the mold - If possible, have the suspect food analyzed by a lab to identify the mold type. This can determine if it is a highly toxic variety like certain Aspergillus species. Toxic molds increase health risks.
  • Take antifungals - Your doctor may prescribe antifungal medications if the food contained a fungal mold that could lead to intestinal or systemic infection, especially in those with weakened immunity.
  • Avoid high risk foods - Do not consume other aged/spoiled foods that could also be harboring molds until your symptoms resolve. Stick to fresh foods.
  • Improve food handling - Refrigerate leftovers promptly in covered containers and obey "use by" dates to avoid future mold issues. Also watch produce closely for spoilage.

Careful monitoring and testing after ingesting moldy food allows for prompt treatment if you develop an infection or reaction. Be vigilant about food safety going forward.

What Should I do if I Accidentally Ate Mold?

Here are some tips on what to do if you accidentally ate mold:

  • Don't panic. Not all mold ingestion leads to illness. The risks depend on the amount eaten, your sensitivity, and the type of mold.
  • Check for symptoms. Look for nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, or other signs of food poisoning over the next few hours. Mild symptoms can be managed with rest and hydration.
  • Seek medical care if you have a high fever, bloody stools, breathing issues, or signs of allergic reaction like hives. These warrant evaluation.
  • Identify the mold if possible. Knowing the mold type will help assess toxicity risks. Certain molds like Aspergillus produce mycotoxins.
  • Take antifungals if prescribed. For vulnerable groups, a doctor may prescribe antifungal medication to prevent spread of mold internally.
  • Avoid high risk foods for now. Do not eat aged, spoiled or visibly moldy foods until symptoms resolve to avoid further exposure.
  • Improve food handling habits. Refrigerate promptly, obey "use by" dates, and inspect produce carefully to avoid future moldy food issues.

With vigilance about symptoms and smart food precautions going forward, an isolated mold exposure should not cause lasting issues in otherwise healthy individuals. Seek medical advice if symptoms concern you.

Mould and Food Allergy

Moulds are a type of fungus that can grow on a variety of different surfaces, including food. Some people may be allergic to certain types of moulds, which can cause an allergic reaction when they consume contaminated food.

The symptoms of a mould allergy can vary, but they may include:

  • Itchy or watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Skin rash or hives
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat

In severe cases, a mould allergy can cause anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening allergic reaction that requires immediate medical attention.

To prevent a mould allergy reaction, it's important to avoid foods that are contaminated with mould. This includes foods such as cheese, bread, mushrooms, and other foods that have visible mould growth or a musty odour. It's also significant to properly store and handle food to prevent mould growth.

If you suspect you have a mould allergy, it's essential to speak with your healthcare provider. They may recommend allergy testing and can provide advice on how to manage your allergy symptoms.

Food Allergy Test

food allergy test is a medical test that can help diagnose food allergies. Food allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies a certain food as harmful and triggers an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe and can include hives, swelling, itching, and difficulty breathing.

There are several types of food allergy tests available, including:

  1. Skin prick test: A small amount of the suspected food allergen is placed on the skin, and the skin is then pricked with a needle. If the skin reacts with swelling or redness, it may indicate a food allergy.
  2. Blood test: A blood sample is taken and tested for the presence of IgE antibodies, which are produced by the immune system in response to an allergen.
  3. Elimination diet: This involves removing suspected allergenic foods from the diet and then slowly reintroducing them to see if symptoms return.
  4. Oral food challenge: This involves consuming a small amount of the suspected allergenic food under medical supervision to see if an allergic reaction occurs.

It's important to note that food allergy tests are not always 100% accurate and should be interpreted by a healthcare provider. In addition, food allergy tests should not be used to diagnose food intolerances, which are different from food allergies and involve a different part of the immune system. If you suspect you have a food allergy, it's significant to speak with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Treatment after Eating Mouldy Food

If you have accidentally eaten mouldy food and are experiencing symptoms of an allergic reaction or food poisoning, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately. Some common symptoms of mould-related illnesses include:

  • Allergic reactions: hives, swelling, itching, difficulty breathing
  • Food poisoning: nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever

If you experience any of these symptoms after consuming mouldy food, contact your healthcare provider or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend antihistamines to alleviate symptoms of an allergic reaction, or prescribe antibiotics or other medications to treat food poisoning. It is important to follow their recommendations and take any prescribed medication as directed.

To prevent the risk of consuming mouldy food in the first place, it is significant to properly store and handle food. This includes keeping food in airtight containers, refrigerating perishable items promptly, and discarding any food that shows visible signs of mould.

Why Getting Mould on Refrigerated Foods?

Mould can grow on refrigerated foods because even though refrigerators help to slow down the growth of mould and bacteria, they do not completely stop it. In fact, some types of mould can still grow in a refrigerator's cool, damp environment.

This can happen for a few reasons:

  1. The temperature inside the refrigerator is not cold enough: The ideal temperature for a refrigerator is between 0-5 °C (32-41 °F). If the temperature is higher than this, it can encourage mould growth.
  2. The food is not properly sealed: Mould spores can travel through the air and contaminate nearby food. If food is not properly sealed, it can be exposed to mould spores and begin to grow mould.
  3. The refrigerator is not cleaned regularly: If there are spills or food particles left in the refrigerator, they can provide a breeding ground for mould and bacteria to grow.

To prevent mould growth on refrigerated foods, it is important to keep the refrigerator clean and at the proper temperature. Additionally, food should be stored in airtight containers or sealed bags to prevent contamination from mould spores. Any food that shows signs of mould or spoilage should be thrown away immediately.

Prevention of Mould on Food

Preventing mould on food is significant to protect your health and ensure that your food is safe to eat. Here are some tips to prevent mould on food:

  1. Store food properly: Store food in airtight containers or in the fridge to prevent mould growth.
  2. Check food regularly: Check food regularly for signs of mould, and discard any mouldy food.
  3. Use food quickly: Use food quickly to prevent it from going bad and developing mould.
  4. Keep surfaces clean: Keep surfaces clean and dry to prevent the growth of mould.
  5. Use mould inhibitors: Some food preservatives can inhibit the growth of mould, such as vinegar and citric acid.

Is a little mold on food dangerous?

Most mold on food can be dangerous to eat. Some molds may contain toxins or allergens that harm your health. It's best to discard whole items like bread or produce if you spot small amounts of mold too, as threads may have spread across the food already.

Can you save cheese with mold on it?

It is not advised to eat any soft cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese or brie if you spot surface mold. You should discard these without tasting. With firm cheeses like gorgonzola, cheddar or parmesan, you can trim off at least 1 inch around and below the moldy part before consuming the remainder.

What kills mold spores on food?

White vinegar is an effective disinfectant and cleaner of mold spores on durable produce like cabbage or carrots. Mix 1 cup of vinegar in 1 gallon of water, soak produce for 15 minutes, then scrub and rinse before eating. Bleach can also kill mold spores on non-porous surfaces, but it should not contact consumables.

Can refrigerating bread prevent mold?

Yes, storing bread properly in the fridge can make it last longer mold-free. Ensure bread is kept in an airtight bag away from moisture and heat. Whole loaves last 2-3 weeks refrigerated, while sliced bread may only go 5-7 days before developing issues like mold. Freezing bread also prevents mold.


Moulding on food is a common problem that can have serious health consequences. It is caused by a combination of moisture, warmth, oxygen, and time. While some types of mould are harmless, others can be dangerous to your health. Preventing mould on food is important to protect your health and ensure that your food is safe to eat. By following these tips, you can reduce the risk of mould on food and keep yourself and your family safe.


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