Food Mold Guidelines: Minimizing Growth
Food mold shows up in the most unique places…on bread inside plastic bags, in the refrigerator crisper, on apples and oranges in the fruit basket, even floating around inside a half empty bottle of soda or beer on the back porch.
We’ve all seen food mold, especially the green mold on foods that have seen better days. No reason to get all riled up about a little bit of mold, right? Unfortunately, for some people that way of thinking could be wrong—dead wrong. Mold is a serious issue and can often turn into a health risk.
For people who have mold allergies, breathing or ingesting common green mold found on foods such as bread and fruit could produce disastrous results.
Dangerous Mold Spores
It’s nearly impossible to get away from mold spores. Mold will grow just about anywhere. And while mold spores can be good, sometimes even beneficial for human consumption, they can also be very bad.
Two very dangerous types of fungi are found in food molds that produce mycotoxins and/or aflatoxins. Mycotoxins are poisonous compounds and aflatoxins are cancer-causing toxins, both caused by certain types of mold. These molds are generally white, gray or black.
According to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 25 percent of the world’s food crops are affected by mycotoxcins, which are toxic substances created by certain molds often found in grains, nuts, and a variety of other produce plants.
First of all, keep in mind that not all mold spores are dangerous. Secondly know that humans are equipped with an arsenal of mold fighting tools. Cleanliness is the first line of defense.
If you know that mold spores are everywhere and that mold spores readily grow in areas that are dark and damp, you also know that you should keep such areas clean. Since mold spores can and will build up in places such as refrigerators and areas where water leakage is taking place, such as a basement or attic, as well as under kitchen sinks, it’s important to keep such areas clean and as dry as possible.
- Do not leave wet dishtowels or dishcloths beneath sinks where mildew and mold can take hold.
- Cleaning supplies such as mops and towels should be changed daily and washed in hot soapy bleach water on a regular basis. Towels, sponges or mops that smell musty should be discarded to prevent spreading mold spores.
- Keep the inside of the refrigerator clean and fresh by washing the walls and shelves of the interior often (Bleach water: carefully pour three teaspoons of bleach in a quart of hot soapy water. Baking soda water: dissolve one tablespoon of baking soda dissolved in one quart of hot soapy water).
- Never purchase moldy food. A good way to avoid purchasing moldy food is to thoroughly check produce, especially around the stems. Avoid purchasing produce that has been bruised. A bruise or abrasion is the perfect landing spot for mold spores.
- Discard produce or food that is old or has already begun to show signs of mold. Packaged bread is a perfect example of products that easily mold. And remember that organic food stuffs will mold faster because they do not have added preservatives.
- Do not eat moldy bread or feed it to pets, birds or wild animals. Bread—either fresh or stale—does not generally provide enough nutritional value to animals anyway, and moldy bread can cause serious illness.