What are molds?
Mold is tiny fungi that can be transmitted by air, water and insects. Mold forms thread-like structures in foods. Mold makes the food uneatable. Molds can be vividly visible to the human eye. Molds have different forms and textures. Molds can be seen in various colours like green, blue, yellow, white and black. Molds are typically velvety, fuzzy or rough in structure and appearance.
Types of food molds
Some of the common types of food molds are:
Alternaria: These types of molds occur in indoor areas. Examples include showers and sinks cause hey fever, Asthma etc.
Aspergillus: These molds typically grow indoors. It can also be seen in dust, food items and drywalls.
Cladosporium: These types of molds grow in warm and cool areas. It can also be seen in fabrics and woody surfaces.
Penicillium: This sort of mold typically has a green or blue appearance and grows in water-damaged buildings.
Apart from these, there are some of the additional food-borne molds commonly seen in foods are Fusarium , Botrytis, Geotrichum,Monilia, Manoscus, Mortierella, Mucor, Neurospora, Oidium, Oosproa, Rhizopus.
How do molds grow on foods?
Molds can grow on every food. In most cases, foods rich in water content are vulnerable to molds. In general, food preservatives decrease the occurrence of molds. There is a misbelief that molds only grow in home-cooked foods. Molds also grow on other foods like
- Fruits and vegetables like Strawberries, Tomatoes and Cucumber
- Bread, Cheese, Milk and baked foods
- Jam and jellies, Peanut butter, Legumes and Yogurts
Is mold dangerous?
Some molds are highly dangerous as they contain a substance called mycotoxin. A poisonous substance that makes people fall sick. When a food seems moldy, the mold spores have penetrated deep into the food and make it harmful to eat.
Whenever mold grows, spores and unstable organic compounds also mix up in the air. Whenever you inhale mold spores from food or air, it may lead to allergies and irritants. Therefore, food mold is dangerous to breathe, as it may cause irritation in the nose, throat and lungs, especially in persons affected by chronic lung condition or Asthma and people prone to allergies, weakened immune system and respiratory problems.
What happens if you accidentally eat moldy foods?
First, control your anxiety when you realise you ate moldy food. Relax and don’t get worried as nothing serious happens to your body. Check whether you have any symptoms for the rest of the day. Most probably, you will be fine.
Sometimes, eating moldy foods exhibit severe symptoms related to nausea, diarrhoea and rapid hike in body temperature. In such cases, seek medical help immediately. Molds also trigger the production of bacteria and microbes, increases the risk of fungal and bronchial infections. There is some evidence that molds may lead to the following conditions: Bronchitis, Hypersensitivity, Pneumonitis, Allergic Alveolitis, and lower respiratory tract problems in children.
How to protect food from mold?
Since mold spores can be transmitted through air and water, there are a lot of chances that your food may get prone to mold. Hence, cover your food often to prevent exposure to mold spores. It is better to cover fruits and vegetables with plastic wraps to preserve your food from mold attacks.
Here are some of the additional tips to protect mold growth in foods.
- Refrigerate the perishable foods
- Use freezer for long storage
- Maintain your kitchen clean
- Clean your fridge
Molds are present everywhere, but they can often be seen growing on foods. The deposited molds slowly produce a harmful substance called mycotoxin. Mycotoxins are formed when molds reach their maturity.
Normally, food becomes completely rotten at this phase and is likely to be thrown away. Therefore, do not consume moldy foods as they may cause serious health effects to your body.