What happens when you eat mold? Will it kill you? Not necessarily. In fact, there are types of “safe” mold to consume like the Penicillium and Fusarium, which are used in making Roquefort cheese and quorn.
However, the number is safe to consume when they’re deliberately cultivated under certain circumstances and number. But when you accidentally eat moldy cheese or other foods, what’s going to happen?
Several foods like the fruits, veggies, bread, meat, nuts, chocolate, and milk provide the perfect home for mold to grow. They need oxygen to live and can easily develop on food in the opened airtight packaging and foods stored in warm and humid condition. While mold growth can produce mycotoxins, the harmful substance, eating mold can actually cause several health issues.
Table of Contents
- A. Types of Foods That are OK and Not OK to Consume when Moldy
- B. What happens when you eat moldy Bread and Cheese?
- C. Signs to be Aware of When You Eat Moldy Foods
- D. How Eating Moldy Foods Affects Your Digestive System
- E. Steps to Take When You Eat Mold
A. Types of Foods That are OK and Not OK to Consume when Moldy
I mentioned before that eating moldy cheese is safe up to certain criteria. The mold and its spores are dangerous when swallowed or inhaled because it can trigger an allergic reaction. However, some foods are still safe to consume even when they’re contaminated with mold. That being said, the foods include:
- Hard cheese
- Firm fruits and veggies
- Dry hams
You can easily remove the mold by cutting the parts indicating the invasion. However, be sure not to let your knife has contact with the mold; otherwise, it’ll also affect other parts even other foods when you use it later.
Some other foods like soft fruits and veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, berries) need to be rid of when contaminated. If you accidentally ate moldy food, drink a lot of water and take allergy medication just in case. Soft, moldy cheese is not advised to eat because they contain molds and bacteria that are not part of the production process.
Here are other types of foods to be discarded completely when catching mold:
- Jams and jellies
- Peanut butter, nuts
- Cooked foods
- Yoghurt, sour cream, milk
B. What happens when you eat moldy Bread and Cheese?
Since the mold can show up anywhere, you need to be extremely cautious in the kitchen area where everything can go into your stomachache. When it comes to eating moldy bread, for example, the safest bet is to throw it away upon the first encounter.
The mold spores in bread can cause an allergic reaction and respiratory problem. In fact, you should never eat the “clean” part of the moldy bread.
Fortunately, the case is slightly different on moldy cheese. The answer to whether it’s safe to eat cheese with mold varies greatly depending on the type of cheese we’re talking about. Soft cheese products like cream cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese are not safe to eat when moldy.
The spores and mycotoxins are most likely to be spread throughout the cheese, not to mention other harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella to grow along with the mold.
Hard and semi-soft cheese like the Swiss and parmesan allows a little bit of leeway. You can simply cut the moldy parts and keep the knife clean
C. Signs to be Aware of When You Eat Moldy Foods
Whenever you have contact with the mold, it can be a health problem. From skin rashes to pulmonary disease, it is best not to compromise your health by taking the chance of eating the clean part of the food. In most cases, mold infestation symptoms in the body are not visible until 24 or 72 hours to one week upon the initial contact.
When ingested, mold can cause asthma, respiratory problem, pulmonary disease, etc., and here’s what happens when you eat mold (mild symptoms):
Eating molds will cause upset stomach, resulting in nausea upon the first ingestion. The sign includes the urge to vomit and will be prevalent for a couple of hours if not treated immediately.
Eating moldy bread or foods can cause enteritis, a condition of inflammation of the small intestine. The sickness usually appears after three days after the ingestion and can also cause stomach cramps, vomiting and diarrhea.
3. Diarrhea and upset stomach
The mycotoxins of the mold spores when not treated can cause diarrhea and some fatal diseases like kidney problems or liver cancer. The rate of mold infestation is upsurging in the states, and invasive aspergillosis is found to be the biggest concern.
Eating moldy foods causes disruption in your digestive system. Inflammation and swelling are the two most common symptoms that may lead to more serious digestive illness. In chronic cases, patients are required to hospitalized when food poisoning is not resolved within 10 days.
Read also: How Do You Know You Have Mold exposure
D. How Eating Moldy Foods Affects Your Digestive System
Mycotoxins released by the mold spores can disrupt the balance of beneficial and pathogenic bacteria level in the intestine and interrupt nutrient absorption. That particular substance also causes oxidative stress, inflammation, and increase vulnerability to be affected by bacteria, virus, and parasitic gut infection.
So, what actually happens if you eat mold? When the beneficial microbes in the gut depleted, it increases gut inflammation and bowel disease, impaired gut immunity, and promote pathogenic bacteria in the guts.
While the mycotoxins change the internal gut composition, it also depletes the ability of intestinal epithelium to block toxins, pathogens, and foreign antigens to entering the bloodstream. As a result, the guts permeability increases and potentially triggers leaky gut, leading to severe infection.
The effects of mold-related gut infection are worse in people who have a diet in high grains and processed food. Several factors influencing the severity of stomach disease are antibiotic use, genetic background, stress, and exposure to environmental toxins.
E. Steps to Take When You Eat Mold
If you accidentally ate mold and not sure what to do, take the antifungal medication first. Go see the doctor if you’re not sure about what to do if you eat mold and ask for a diagnosis.
Consuming probiotics helps to block the mycotoxins from infecting other parts of the gut. The supplement also works by detoxing your body from the harmful bacteria, reduce mycotoxins, and eventually eliminate the mold out of your stomach.
Another method to reduce the effects of what happens when you eat mold is taking the activated charcoal supplement. It helps to bind the mycotoxins and prevent them from circulating to the liver and subsequently reduce the number of the substance.