Sunday, May 22, 2011
ARE MOLDY DONUTS UNHEALTHY?
In most cases, moldy food is not dangerous. In fact, "good mold" is used to make many kinds of foods, including certain cheeses. But some molds produce dangerous mycotoxins some of the time - when the conditions are right. The best known of these mycotoxins is aflatoxin, but there are plenty of others, including fumonisin, vomitoxin, zearalenone and ochratoxin. These molds and their toxins can potentially pop up in anything we eat, including grains and grain-based foods like bread and donuts, nuts, peanuts, spices, dairy and even produce.
It is unlikely that you will get a big enough dose of a mycotoxin from a single serving of moldy food to become suddenly and violently ill. But mycotoxins in your food could have a longer-term effect. In fact, some of these toxins have been linked to several forms of cancer and other diseases as well. The research is at a very early stage, except in the case of aflatoxin. Who knows what we'll find out in the future.
And, the trouble is that you can't tell when one of the fungi like Aspergillus, Claviceps, Penicillium or Fusarium takes it into its fuzzy mind to start spitting out these toxic byproducts. So, if you find moldy food in your refrigerator or on your kitchen shelf, throw it out. That's what I did with some bread today. Even though I hate wasting food, it is better than ruining your health.
P.S.: The Safe Food Handbook provides more detail on how you can avoid mold on food, and also how you can save some of the moldy food by careful removal of mold.