What Are Food Molds?
Molds are the microscopic fungi which live on plant and animal matter. After growing out from spores they float in the air, which if fall on a food substance grow into a mold.
Molds are of different types:
- Mold which grows on lemons looks like a blue-green powder.
- One which grows on strawberries is grey-white fuzz.
- Mold which grows on bread is cottony fuzz at first and later turns black.
Unlike bacteria, molds have many cells and sometimes can be visible to the naked eyes. Microscopically they look like skinny mushrooms, which consist of:
- Root threads which invade the food they live on
- A stalk which rises above from the food
- Spores which form at the end of the stalk
- Spores are responsible for giving the color to the mold which you can see.
Molds are mostly found in every environment and both indoors and outdoors and all year round. The growth is encouraged by warm and humid conditions. Outdoors they develop in the damp places where leaves and other vegetations are decomposing and indoors they are found in the place of high humidity.
The common foodborne molds are Alternaria, Botrytis, Cladosporium, Thamnidium, Aspergillus, Mortierela, Mucor, Oidium, Penicillium, Monilia, Rhizopus, Oosproa, Neurospora, Manoscus, and Geotrichum.
Are Molds Dangerous?
Yes, molds are dangerous as they can lead to allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Also, few molds produce mycotoxins which can make you sick.
- Mycotoxins are poisonous substances produced by molds mostly found on grain and nut crops and also on celery, grape juice, apples, and other produce.
- Cheese is eaten only after it becomes moldy with an exception of mold on hard cheese.
- Blue cheese gets its color from the blue-green veins of the mold in it. Some of the moldy cheeses are safe to eat after the mold has been sliced off while a few others may still remain toxic.
Can Molds Grow In The Refrigerator?
Most of the molds grow in warm temperature but some can grow in the refrigerator too. They can tolerate salt and sugar better than other food invaders. Therefore can grow in jams and jelly present in refrigerator and also on the cured salty meat.
How To Protect Food From Molds?
When serving food, keep it covered to protect from the spores of mold in the air. Plastic wraps can be used to cover the food such as fresh-cut fruits and vegetables and green salads.
- Store food in clean storage containers and refrigerate them promptly.
- Never leave perishable food out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours.
- Use the food in refrigerator within 3-4 days to avoid the growth of molds on them.
- Clean the refrigerator or pantry where the food is mostly stored.
- Clean the inside of the refrigerator every few months with baking powder dissolved in water. Rinse it with clear water and dry.
- The dishcloths, towel, sponges, and mops should be kept clean.
- The humidity level of the house should be below 40 percent. Use humidifiers to maintain it.
- There are certain precaution to be considered when handling food with mold on it:
- Never sniff the food with mold on it as it can lead to respiratory trouble.
- Food covered with mold should be discarded. Put it in a small plastic wrap and dispose of it in a trash can.
- Keep the refrigerator and pantry area where the food is stored clean.
- As mold spread quickly, check the nearby items of moldy food.
Before buying the food product examine the food well for the presence of mold.
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