Is It Safe to Remove Mold From Food and Eat the Rest?

Some people have the habit of removing mold from food in order to consume the rest. However, many are unaware that this could lead to intoxication or illness. We'll tell you more about it here.
Is It Safe to Remove Mold From Food and Eat the Rest?
Saúl Sánchez Arias

Written and verified by the nutritionist Saúl Sánchez Arias.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

It’s a widespread custom to remove mold from food and consume the unaffected part, but there are definitely serious risks involved. Removing the moldy parts doesn’t guarantee that the toxins present in the product will be eliminated. Therefore, they could trigger an illness or intoxication.

Only hard and dry foods can be consumed once the contaminated part’s been removed. However, you should completely discard soft and moist foods in this situation.

Therefore, you should never eat jams, dried fruits, soft fruits, cheeses, bread, and pastries that have developed mold. However, it’s okay to eat cured meat products, firm fruits, and vegetables.

No matter what, when in doubt, it’s best to discard the product, as mycotoxins may have penetrated to the inside and cause intoxication.

Poisoning caused by molds or fungal origin

This type of poisoning is usually chronic. The toxin accumulates over time in the body causing different adverse effects. Some of them can be hepatitis, nephropathies, ergotism, and esophageal cancer. However, it can also be the case of acute intoxication causing effects shortly after ingestion.

As a general rule, you must take great care when it comes to mycotoxins, as they’re usually classified as carcinogenic.

In addition, there are many types of mycotoxins and not all of them are recognized. Some can cause death in short periods of time through acute intoxication. Others, for example, are hallucinogenic in nature.

A slice of moldy bread.

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Other critical moments in food hygiene

In addition to the presence of molds on the surface and inside products, there are other situations that can endanger the consumer. Many of these have to do with the consumption of raw meat foods that haven’t undergone the appropriate processes.

For example, consuming raw or undercooked white fish, without prior freezing, radically increases the risk of contamination with anisakis.

Food thawing processes are also often a critical point. Experts usually recommend thawing products in the refrigerator. This prevents temperatures that are optimal for bacterial growth.

In addition, you must take care when handling foodstuffs to avoid cross-contamination. You should never use the same utensils to handle raw foods and cooked foods. Microorganisms could pass from one to the other.

How to detect food poisoning from mold from food

If the intoxication is acute, the symptoms are usually quick and clear. Generally, this type of intoxication has to do with gastrointestinal problems. Diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting are the most frequent situations.

In this type of situation, it’s crucial to ensure the correct hydration of the patient to avoid major problems. The ingestion of solid food should be suspended until the symptoms cease. From this point on, a bland diet is started and fatty foods are introduced gradually.

If the intoxication is chronic, as in the case of mycotoxins, its detection becomes more complicated. Often, the manifestations are hepatic. These are complicated and require pharmacology for their treatment. In some cases, certain types of cancer may even develop.

Thus, the only way to avoid this type of situation is prevention. If we suspect that a food may be contaminated, or if it’s moldy and we don’t know if it’s enough to remove it, it is best to discard the product altogether.

A man eating a salad and having abdominal cramps.

So is it safe to remove mold from food and eating the rest?

In some cases, it’s safe to remove mold from food and then consume the remaining product. These are usually dry foods, with little moisture or water. However, in most products, it’s best to avoid consumption if any mold is present.

Mycotoxins may have penetrated into the product, which can cause acute or chronic intoxication from accumulation. It’s crucial to be very meticulous with food hygiene to prevent major problems. In this way, any risk can be avoided.

Acute intoxications can be identified and treated relatively quickly. However, in the case of chronic intoxications, the consequences can be fatal at the organic level. Liver problems and even the development of certain types of cancer are possible.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Arif S., Perfect JR., Emergence of the molds other than aspergillus in immunocompromised patients. Clin Chest Med, 2017. 38 (3): 555-573.
  • Sanguinetti M., Posteraro B., Identification of molds by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry. J Clin Microbiol, 2017. 55 (2): 369-379.
  • Janssen, S., Pankoke, I., Klus, K., Schmitt, K., Stephan, U., & Wöllenstein, J. (2014). Two underestimated threats in food transportation: Mould and acceleration. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences.
  • Calado, T., Venâncio, A., & Abrunhosa, L. (2014). Irradiation for Mold and Mycotoxin Control: A Review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.