Here’s What Happens If You Eat Mold, According to Food Safety Experts_freckle removal laser machine

Korin Miller·4 min read
Here’s What Happens If You Eat Mold, According to Food Safety Experts

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It happens to the best of us: You distractedly eat a piece of cheese from your fridge, only to realize as you’re snacking on the last of it that it’s moldy.

While that alone can make you feel nauseous, it’s only natural to wonder…what happens if you eat mold? Can you get sick from eating mold or is it no big deal? We asked food safety experts to weigh in on the health risks of eating mold, and when to be concerned.

What happens if you eat mold?

It really depends. “Many foods like fresh produce have mold spores on them naturally, or our food and plates becomes a resting spot for mold that is floating through the air,” says Benjamin Chapman, Ph.D., a professor and food safety specialist at North Carolina State University. “If you think about strawberries or raspberries sitting at room temperature for too long they can often show some signs of mold spoilage. The mold spores were there usually from the harvest environment, so I’d guess that consuming mold is a daily thing.”

That doesn’t mean you should happily dive into moldy breads and cheeses, though. Molds in the right environment can grow and cause spoilage, and that could make you sick, Chapman says. And, in some situations “you might experience nausea or vomiting” after consuming mold, says Darin Detwiler, LP.D., associate teaching professor at Northeastern University and author of Food Safety: Past, Present, and Predictions. “It’s just your body’s natural way of trying to get the mold out of your system,” he adds. (At the same time, it’s entirely possible to eat something moldy and be just fine, Chapman says.)

Is it safe to eat mold?

Sure, you can eat moldy bread and be just fine. But you could also get sick from it. “Some instances of mold growth on food can represent a food safety hazard,” says Abby Snyder, Ph.D., assistant professor of food science at the Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Some molds produce mycotoxins when they grow on certain foods—corn, wheat, and peanuts, for example.” Mycotoxins, in case you’re not familiar with them, are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of fungi, per the World Health Organization (WHO). Mycotoxins can lead to nausea, cramping, and vomiting, Chapman points out.


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