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USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine



After cutting off mold, is the remaining food safe to eat?

Use care when deciding which of the "fuzzy" foods hiding in your kitchen you'll try to salvage, said Dr. Janice Stuff, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine and a research dietitian at the USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center in Houston.  Some molds produce toxins that can leach into foods and make unsuspecting humans ill.

Discard mold-infected, soft-textured dairy products, meats, leftovers, and fruits and vegetables with a high water content.  This includes moldy mozzarella and Brie cheeses, sour cream, cottage cheese, yogurts, lunchmeats, bacon, casseroles, stews, butter, jellies, peanut butter, cucumbers, tomatoes, salad greens, corn on the cob, melons, bananas and peaches.

The molds that typically grow on peanuts, rice and corn also produce potent toxins.  If mold develops on rice, corn or products that contain these grains, such as cornmeal, flours, mixes, and cereals, toss away the entire box.  Discard shriveled peanuts.

On the other hand, if a few precautions are taken, it is safe to pare away the mold from hard or firm foods like Swiss and cheddar cheeses, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, garlic, onion, zucchini, potatoes, apples and pears.  Before eating, carve away at least one inch around the moldy area.  Avoid letting the knife touch the affected area to prevent the mold from spreading.  Use salvaged portions as soon as possible.

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