Schimmel: When does food belong in the trash?

Shopped yesterday, already moldy today - how annoying. What to watch out for when bread, strawberries or other foods spoil

Caution: mold in strawberry peels can start hidden

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Mold can be dangerous

White hairs form on freshly bought strawberries, the apple gets brown spots, and a greenish-white fluff - mold - appears in the middle of the bread. That always raises a question: throw it away or cut it out?

While noble cultures from cheese are harmless, unwanted mold on food can be harmful to health. Some types of mold form toxic metabolic products - so-called mycotoxins. They can cause acute damage in

  • liver
  • Kidneys
  • and immune system.

If those affected are exposed to these toxins several times or for a certain period of time, they have a carcinogenic effect, can damage the genetic material and lead to malformations in the embryo. "Mycotoxins cannot be eliminated by cooking or freezing," says Antje Gahl, nutritionist at the German Nutrition Society (DGE). However, there are ways of inactivating various mycotoxins in food production.

Be sure to throw these foods away if they are moldy

You should completely dispose of moist food in the event of mold growth. This includes:

  • soft fruit
  • compote
  • juices
  • vegetables

"If food contains a lot of water, the mold can spread quickly," warns Gahl. It can affect the whole strawberry or plum without you realizing it. This also applies to dairy products such as

  • Soft, cream and semi-hard cheese
  • yogurt
  • Quark

"Even with moldy jams and jellies, you should always throw them away," says the nutritionist. Diet jams and fruit spreads that get by with less sugar must be stored in the refrigerator and disposed of if there is mold. This also includes homemade jams that contain fruit and sugar in a two-to-one or three-to-one ratio.

Borderline case of sausage and hard cheese

You can generously cut away superficial mold if it concerns hard cheeses such as Parmesan. However, only if the whitish-green spot only appears on the surface and the pieces are whole. If there is a lot of mold, throw away the hard cheese, as the fungi may already have got into the inside of the cheese! Grated hard cheese doesn't stand a chance either, it has to go.

Cold cuts of air-dried sausage products such as salami or Parma ham should also be thrown away if they are infected with mold. Exceptions are raw sausages such as noble salami, which are sprayed with special mold cultures. Depending on the recipe, the manufacturers use natural casings that can be eaten with. The mold cultures set metabolic processes in motion, aroma and smell develop. Towards the end of ripening, a white layer forms. As soon as the salami is cut, it belongs in the refrigerator.

Sliced ​​bread and slices of toast should be thrown away if there is mold. "As soon as a spot of mold or a mold lawn is recognizable, it can be assumed that the entire bread is already infected with mold, or the invisible fungal threads," says Gahl. When in doubt, it's better to throw it away than to remove it.

Nut mold

A special case is mold on nuts, for example

  • Pistachios
  • peanuts
  • Hazelnuts

Dried fruits (such as figs) and spices (such as pepper and paprika powder) can also be affected.

The "nut mold" releases the toxic substance aflatoxin. This is a metabolic product (also a mycotoxin) that is formed by certain types of mold, which are a problem especially in tropical countries and goods imported from them. Aflatoxins thrive mainly on seeds and nuts that contain oil and starch if the crop has been stored too moist. Aflatoxin damages cells and can cause liver cancer. If nuts begin to mold on the shell or core, you should therefore discard them immediately.

Prevent mold growth

A short storage time prevents mold growth. In this way, the susceptible foods are consumed before they become infected. In principle, you can contain mold growth by keeping fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator and storing food properly:

  • clean
  • dry
  • cool

Regularly transport the organic waste into the organic waste bin. Keep bread dry, airy and not too warm - preferably in a bread box or pan. As a preventive measure, bread crumbs should be removed frequently as they encourage mold to grow. In addition, it is recommended to clean the bread box regularly with vinegar water.