Seems like food safety 101, but our expert says you don't always have to toss food just because it's moldy

By Mirel Ketchiff
September 25, 2015
Corbis Images

Everyone's been there: The only thing that got you through those last couple miles of your long run was the promise of a perfect, satisfying turkey sandwich when you got home. (Can we recommend this amazing turkey Dijon toastie? It's under 300 calories.) But when you finally make it, you pull out the bread bag-only to see a big spot of mold on one of the few slices left. And if you're like us, before you resign yourself to another, less-satisfying snack, you wonder, Could I just... rip that part off?

When it comes to bread, the answer is no. "Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface, where you can't necessarily see. Moldy foods may also have harmful bacteria growing along with the mold," says Alexandra Miller, R.D., a corporate dietition at Medifast. In addition to bread, Miller says, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends tossing meat, pasta, casseroles, yogurt or sour cream, soft cheese, soft fruits and vegetables (like peaches), peanut butter, and jams. (Psst... You can make some of those healthy foods last longer with these tips.)

That said, not all foods need to be thrown out just because mold has taken residence on a single corner. "Mold generally can't penetrate deep into dense foods and foods with a low moisture content," Miller notes. You can cut mold off of hard cheeses (just remove at least an inch around and below the mold spot, and don't cut into the mold with the knife you're using to avoid cross-contamination), cheeses made with mold (bleu cheese or Gorgonzola), firm fruits and veggies (like cabbage or carrots), and hard salami or dry-cured meats. (Check out these three other surprising places mold hides out in your home.)

One thing you shouldn't do, whether you plan on eating that fungi-ridden food or not, is try doing a sniff test. ("Does this smell bad to you?") "Sniffing moldy items can cause respiratory issues," says Miller. And as much as it may hurt to toss out your dreams of a post-run turkey sandwich, the last thing you want to do is wind up in the ER because you sniffed too much moldy multigrain.

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