We’ve all faced this conundrum before: you’re pulling out bread to make yourself a sandwich and you see, just at the top of the bread, a little circle of blue-green mold.
Mold is not always good for you, true, but does that one little spot have to ruin your whole piece of bread?
As it turns out, it unfortunately does. In fact, the U.S.D.A. now recommends that at the first sign of mold, you discard your whole loaf of bread.
It’s sad but true. Recent studies have found that mold has long, threadlike roots that invade the entirety of the food it grows on.
The microscopic fungi can cause allergic reactions and breathing problems for some people. A few molds can produce hazardous substances called mycotoxins – the worst of these substances, aflatoxins, may even cause liver cancer.
Marianne H. Gravely, an educator with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, suggests that if you want to preserve some of the bread, “cut away a big section surrounding the mold with a healthy margin around it to make sure you got all of it.”
However, even this precaution can be risky, as some bacteria cannot be seen by the naked eye. It is recommended that the bread is wrapped up and discarded ASAP, to prevent any toxins from getting into the air.
The only exceptions to this rule are molds that are found on hard salami – luckily, this mold can be safely scraped off. Also, in some cheeses like Brie, mold is actually used to produce the cheese and is therefore safe to eat!
As extra precautions when you stumble across mold, never sniff the mold you’ve found, as this can lead to direct respiratory problems. Also, make sure that once you’ve disposed of the moldy bread, you clean that surface thoroughly to prevent any unseen bacteria from spreading.