Moldy bread does not just taste bad. It can also make you sick. Although there are other types of molds that are far more dangerous than the ones that can develop on bread, eating moldy food is never good.
Plus, thinking that you had mold in your body is just awful. Not only that you might gag at the thought, but it will also make you feel so gross. But what exactly happens if you eat moldy bread?
To further convince you how bad it is to eat moldy bread, we wrote this article for you.
This article outlines what happens if you eat moldy bread, the hazards bread mold can cause, and how to keep your bread mold-free.
What is Bread Mold?
Different kinds of molds can grow in different places. There are types of molds that grow only in woods, decaying plants, and animal litter.
Some can be found growing on food. Bread is one of the most common foods where molds grow.
Mold is a type of fungus that belongs in the same family as mushrooms. They survive by breaking down and absorbing the nutrients of the material where they grow on.
Various types of molds can grow on bread. Although they might differ in type, they still share a few common things.
Usually, molds have a fuzzy part on them. Those are the colonies of spores. Through these, the fungi reproduce. These spores can travel through the air inside the container and can later grow on other parts of the bread.
They also give molds their color. Colors can vary from white, yellow, green, gray, or even black. The color highly depends on the type of fungus that grew on the bread.
Just like other types of molds, bread molds also reproduce by creating colonies of spores. You can usually find them anywhere, as long as the place has moisture and organic matter.
In addition, they drift either through air or land, in water or food. Although they can be practically anywhere, the majority of these spores can be classified as harmless.
Bread molds thrive on the bread because rich organic materials can be found in it. Since bread contains sugar and carbohydrates, it can fuel the growth of spores. In fact, bread left out in the open can have molds in just five to seven days.
Bread molds are also very visible. The type of bread mold that can grow in the bread will depend on the type of spores present in the environment where the bread is.
Additionally, spores reproduce asexually through the air. Once the spores land on an object with ideal environmental conditions aka your lovely bread, growing of roots, fuzzing, maturing, and releasing spores of their own will happen.
How Does Bread Get Mold?
If plants grow from seeds, mold doesn’t. Molds grow from tiny spores floating around the air inside the container. When these spores come in contact with something damp, molds begin to grow.
Spores are microscopic molds that are usually present in the air around us. They can be found in any object, on any condition.
These spores, if not removed properly, will germinate and form hyphae. It will then grow on the bread’s surface. Next, it will start absorbing the moisture and nutrients found on the bread.
The nutrients from the bread can help the molds develop and mature into fungi called rhizoids. Rhizoids will then penetrate into the surface of the bread and develop fruiting structures, known as the sporangium. This is where small spores grow and release into the surrounding areas.
The growth rate of bread molds depends on some environmental factors. One of the most crucial environmental factors to bread mold growth is temperature.
If you store bread in a refrigerator, the growth of mildew will be slowed down, since most molds only thrive in temperatures above 70° F.
The low temperature in the refrigerator will completely stall the growth of mold. Since the bread mold is also a living organism, it also requires moisture and oxygen for it to grow.
To grow, the fungus absorbs the moisture trapped in the bread container. The more nutrients and moisture it can absorb, the faster it can grow. Unlike plants, bread mold does not require light to grow.
Why You Should Not Eat Moldy Bread
Some types of molds produce toxic byproducts called mycotoxin. They primarily affect grain and nut crops, like peanuts and wheat. Some experts even associate one variant of it called aflatoxin, with cancer.
The mold’s genome and the environment where it grows determine whether the mold will produce toxins or not. Although mold can be a toxin in one environment, it does not necessarily mean that it will be the same in another.
The most prevalent bread mold, penicillium, less likely produces mycotoxins. However, it can happen in rare cases. So, you better be safe than sorry.
Sometimes, mold spores can also produce proteins that might trigger allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can cause coughing, itchy eyes, or even an asthma attack.
If you accidentally consume mold, you will most likely not get seriously ill, as long as you don’t have allergies to mold.
However, those people with compromised immune systems (those who undergo chemotherapy or have an immune system disorder) have a higher risk of getting a fungal infection.
If you have a compromised immune system and you accidentally ingested mold, call your doctor immediately. The same thing applies when you experience nausea or vomiting after eating moldy bread.
Why You Should Not Save Moldy Bread
The roots of the mold spores go much farther into the bread where it grew, more than what our eyes can see.
If you don’t totally get displeased with the patch of mold that grew into your bread, you will more likely just cut the molded part, and eat the rest.
As a result, there will be clean areas of the bread after you cut off the molded part. Although it looks safe, molds have roots that grow in the other parts of the surface where they grew. These roots serve as a medium for toxins to scatter inside of your food.
The best move is to throw the moldy bread, regardless of whether there’s only a patch of mold on one part of its surface.
Bread is not the only move where this advice is applicable. Other types of food like jams, fruits, meats, and the like should be thrown away immediately, once you spot mold on any part of their surface.
What Happens If You Eat Moldy Bread?
You have mycotoxins to blame, in case you got sick from eating food with molds. Mycotoxins are invisible compounds that are natural products of certain types of molds.
A small amount of mold won’t cause any health issues if your immune system is working well. Other than being grossed out by the thought of eating or even just smelling moldy bread, it typically has no harm on you.
The most common effect of ingesting moldy food is nausea. Other symptoms like coughing, sneezing, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, and fever may also occur.
However, if you have a compromised immune system, intake of fungal spores will have a negative impact on your digestive tract, upper respiratory tract, and even your brain.
You also have to look out for symptoms of food poisoning like nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Additionally, people who have asthma and other respiratory diseases should look for any signs of allergic reaction.
Asthma attacks, sinus, and organ infections can be caused by certain types of molds. For pregnant women, ingestion of mold can cause neural tube effects to the developing fetus. Although rare, eating moldy food may result in death.
If you are healthy but are concerned about ingesting moldy food, it is best to contact your doctor.
What to Do If You Accidentally Eat Moldy Bread
Mold on the bread can potentially cause allergic reactions or even respiratory problems if ingested. In some cases, simply inhaling mold can cause harm to your body.
Since molds have roots, our eyes cannot see how far their roots have grown into the surface of the bread. You will not be able to tell how far the mold has grown.
If you accidentally ingested mold, you have to look out for any symptoms that you might feel, as some can lead to food poisoning. It is also best to dispose of any bread where the mold already thrived.
There are types of mold that grow on food surfaces and can be potentially dangerous. These molds cause shortness of breath, nausea, fever, and diarrhea. If you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, you must seek immediate medical attention.
How to Keep Bread Free From Molds
Here are some tips to keep your bread mold-free:
1. Put them in the fridge.
The trick to keeping your bread mold-free is located in your kitchen. You store your milk, drinks, and other perishable products here― your fridge.
Milk products and other perishable goods stored in the refrigerator can be consumed even after a week. The same thing applies to your bread. Practicing this helps you enjoy your bread without any worries.
Storing the bread in a dark and cool place will also allow the bread to stay fresh and last longer.
2. Tightly seal your bread.
Sealing your bread container tightly can help slow down the molding process. As much as possible, get rid of air from the container of your bread.
Sealable bags are the ideal container for either homemade or bakery-purchased products. The bread will stay fresh longer, despite its kind.
Humid air and warm temperature are some of the factors that can speed up the growth of mold in your bread. Thus, keeping your bread away from these factors prevents spores from developing.
3. Keep the bread in a cool, dry place and away from the direct sunlight.
Keep your bread in a cool and dry place. Your bread must also be away from direct sunlight. Doing these will help prevent mold from developing in your bread.
If you have a home with a warm and humid temperature, your bread will mold quickly, if you don’t store it properly.
To solve this, you need to find an area in your kitchen that caters to ideal conditions for storing your bread. Given the tips mentioned above, it should be easier for you to find one.
Never consume bread or food that has mold in it. Whether you simply see a moldy patch, the molds’ roots spread out in the bread. These roots might have produced molds, which your naked eyes cannot see.
Ingesting mold can make you sick. Inhaling spores may cause respiratory problems, especially if you have an allergy to mold.
So, if you ask again if it’s safe to eat moldy food or bread? The answer is a big no. For safety purposes, you need to throw out bread that has mold on it.
This is due to the fact that the moldy bread already has bacteria growing in it that are not visible to your naked eyes. It can also contain toxins that could be dangerous to your health.
Cutting off the seemingly mold-free parts does not help you either. We understand that you don’t want to waste food, but is endangering your health really worth it?
So the next time you see a mold on a piece of bread and you are thinking about just cutting off the molded part to consume the rest of it, think again of the possible risks it may bring you.
As per experts’ advice, the best thing to do is throw it, regardless of the size of the mold in it.
If you don’t want to throw away your bread, you may also want to apply the tips mentioned above on how to keep your bread mold-free. By following the said tips, you can consume your carbohydrate treat without any risk of getting sick.
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