Two weeks ago, I checked my phone, only to find a panicked message from my roommate. In it read "Guys... I think I just ate a piece of moldy bread. Do you think I'm gonna die??" It's safe to say that I found it thoroughly hilarious that she had enjoyed eating almost a whole slice of toast, only to realize that there was just a 'lil something extra in there.

To answer your burning question—no, you won't die from moldy food. But you should understand why it's inadvisable to do so.

Why Is Mold Dangerous?

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When you see a piece of mold on food, its "threads" or tentacles have latched onto your food and contaminating even the parts that appear to be mold-free.

Mold produces toxic chemicals, specifically mycotoxins and aflatoxins. These toxins can cause respiratory problems, allergic reactions, and in some cases, even lead to cancer. 

How To Spot Mold

Never sniff your food if you think it's gone moldy.   

This could lead to you inhaling mold spores, which can lead to respiratory issues. 

So, How Can I Decide If Moldy Food Is Still Safe to Eat? 

A guide by the USDA can help you understand how to handle food with mold. As a general rule of thumb, you should toss out all food that has gone moldy, with the exception of some hard cheeses and dense meats. This is because most foods have a moisture content, which can encourage bacterial growth

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Image from WikiCommons

With hard cheeses, mold typically doesn't penetrate deep into the food. However, don't scrub the mold off as it could release spores. Instead, cut around the area with mold and keep the cheese well wrapped. And the same can be said about hard meats such as hard salami and cured ham. 

Hold Up, What About Cheese Made With Mold?

Cheeses such as Roquefort, Blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, Camembert wouldn't taste the same without the presence of mold. But, not all mold is created equal. If you see a spot of mold growing on soft cheese such as brie or camembert, toss it out. Harder cheeses such as Gorgonzola should still be safe to consume as long as the moldy spot can be removed.  

Bottom Line – When in Doubt, Throw It Out

This has probably happened to you at least once in your lifetime. If not now, then perhaps in the near future. And we've all considered just cutting around the edges of the moldy food and salvaging the rest. But you should really exercise good judgment and look out for your health. So say buh-bye to your food. 

If you're a college student looking for ways to stock up on food without having to buy perishables, check out these 15 Essential Non-Perishable Foods to Keep In Your Dorm Room. Or if you're all about sustainability, here are some ways to Repurpose Stale and Old Food