Article by Joanna Sarah-Freedman
If you spot a small amount of mould on a loaf of bread, it might be tempting to just chop it off and eat it as normal.
Waste not, want not, ey?
But experts have revealed that picking mould off of bread is actually a no, no, even if it looks like you’ve completely got rid.
Can you cut mould off a loaf of bread?
“We don’t recommend cutting mould off of bread, because it’s a soft food,” said, Marianne Gravely, a senior technical information specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture, to NPR.
“With soft food, it’s very easy for the roots [of mould], or the tentacles, or whatever creepy word you want to use, to penetrate [deep into the bread].”
Essentially, you might not be able to see the the mould any more, but it could still be there.
You might be able to get away with it if you’re ordering sliced bread in a bag, where you can see the full interior of the bread as well as the outside, but the expert adds that if you aren’t 100 percent certain it’s better to play it safe.
“I have seen mould spread from one slice to the next,” she added. “I’m sure some people would really want to press the situation, but bread is cheap. Go buy some more.”
“As a general rule, a mould colony of 1cm in diameter on the surface has also penetrated 1cm deep into the food”, scientist and mould expert Dr Patrick Hickey told the BBC.
We should caveat that a little bit of mould on your food is not likely to cause you serious harm, although it’s definitely not something anyone would advise eating.
The FDA explain that some moulds “cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems,” whilst a few, “in the right conditions, produce mycotoxins, [which are] poisonous substances that can make you sick.”
“These are chemicals various molds make under certain conditions that are toxic to humans and other creatures,” Scishow host Michael Aranda added to Well + Good.
“For the most part, if you consume a little bit once or twice, you’ll probably be okay. But in larger doses, or over longer periods of time, they can become an issue.”
It doesn’t stop at bread, either.
Lunch meat, soft fruits and condiments could also have more mould than meets the eye, and should be binned if you spot any.
The good news is, when it comes to harder foods the mould doesn’t penetrate as quickly, meaning you can use the likes of hard cheese, carrots and other crunchy veg once you’ve removed the visible mould.
To be extra safe, Gravely suggests trimming off an inch of the bread beyond where you picked off the mould.