NO YOU SHOULD NOT EAT IT
August 14, 2009 4:00 PM   Subscribe

Molds On Foods: Are They Dangerous? Finally a US government agency tells us all what's OK to eat after it's gotten moldy.
posted by GuyZero (53 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Well, that's the death of AskMe right there.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 4:02 PM on August 14, 2009 [18 favorites]


Favorite quote from the article :

Most mushrooms that cause human poisoning cannot be made safe by cooking, canning, freezing, or any other processing. The only way to avoid poisoning is not to eat poisonous mushrooms.


Them's words to live by.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:10 PM on August 14, 2009 [9 favorites]


I was kind of hoping to learn something from that. But alas, it was disappointingly commonsensical.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:13 PM on August 14, 2009


MetaFilter: cannot be made safe by cooking, canning, freezing, or any other processing.
posted by hippybear at 4:13 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I have trouble trusting the USDA on issues of cooking and food safety. Oh, I don't mean they'll give you dangerous advce, only that they'll err so incredibly far on the side of caution that you might as well eat a flavorless mush. This list is actually less bad than usual. The advice is pretty decent. But a need to cut an entire inch of cheese away if there's a little mold on, say, a parmigiano-reggiano? Unless you've got a massive cheese block that's a huge fraction of the cheese you're tossing out. Might as well get a new one.

But things like cooking temperatures? The USDA recommendations are absurd and laughable. They recommend, for example, that you cook a steak to an internal temperature of 145-160F. I don't even know what to say about that. At 145F it's practically shoe leather. I can't even imagine what it is like at 160F. A hockey puck? Firewood? This advice is ridiculous. So I mostly stopped listening to the USDA.
posted by Justinian at 4:14 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Discard soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert if they contain molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process."
uh...ok. If the Limburger stinks in a way that is not part of the normal stinky smell, I'll throw that out too.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:18 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'm agreeing with Justinian - the USDA are no fun. I mean, I sort of know that they have to err on the side of caution, but really. Most people have functional intestines and immune systems.
posted by Coobeastie at 4:21 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't forget their other tip: "Don’t Buy Moldy Foods."

Also, for UK and Canadian residents as well as residents of other Commonwealth countries: don't eat mouldy food either.
posted by GuyZero at 4:22 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Short answer: cut it off hard cheese and hard vegetables/fruits, taking care not to get mold on the knife; wipe surface mold off salami and cured meats; discard everything else.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:22 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but which ones can I smoke?

(sorry, Woodstock week has me trippin' back a bit)
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:23 PM on August 14, 2009


Discard bread with mold? Really? Just cut it off and you're good to go.
posted by kookaburra at 4:23 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of the oft-repeated stand-up comedy line "How can you tell when Sour Cream (or Yogurt) goes bad?" My rule of thumb: dairy products are not supposed to be fuzzy.
posted by wendell at 4:26 PM on August 14, 2009


But a need to cut an entire inch of cheese away if there's a little mold on, say, a parmigiano-reggiano?

The Canadian FoodSafe program teaches very specifically that half an inch is sufficient. So yes, it does seem like the FDA just likes to double numbers to err on the side of ridiculous caution.

As noted above, the USDA also hates cooking meat below well-done. Eggs must also always be well-done, too. Technically a whole bunch of classic soft-yolk techniques like a poached egg, or a hollandaise sauce, or a sabayon - these are all health violations and technically cannot be served at restaurants.
posted by mek at 4:35 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like my food to be dangerous and crazy delicious, thanks.
posted by jeanmari at 4:38 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Coming soon from the US Surgeon General: YES, THAT LOOKS INFECTED TO ME
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:47 PM on August 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


They recommend, for example, that you cook a steak to an internal temperature of 145-160F.

Also, according to the USDA, all pork must be cooked to well-done -- even though trichinella dies at 136F, and in fact hasn't even been a danger since they stopped feeding pigs raw garbage. Seriously -- there were about 16 cases of trichinosis in the US last year, and all of them were from eating wild game.

Besides, medium-rare pork loin is DELICIOUS. Get a food thermometer and do it right. You will not regret it.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:52 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Technically a whole bunch of classic soft-yolk techniques like a poached egg, or a hollandaise sauce, or a sabayon - these are all health violations and technically cannot be served at restaurants.

Or the restaurant puts a disclaimer about the risks of salmonella at the bottom of the menu, which is what I see on pretty much every menu these days.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:59 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


All this site does is make me want to move to Canada. Did you know that they get mangosteens up there? *Mangosteens*!

The USDA is full of big ol' party poopers. They should eat more mushrooms.
posted by Mizu at 4:59 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I eat meat off the street with no problem. I'm either a superhero or a WALKING TIME BOMB OF INFECTION.

Either way, I'll be famous!
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mangosteens are hard to get? Really? Here in Toronto, I get a lot of my produce from a corner shop run by a Punjabi family. They had mangosteens last year, which were quite nice.

I guess I'll step out and see if they have any more.
posted by maudlin at 5:16 PM on August 14, 2009


There will almost certainly be mangosteens at the Alemany farmers market tomorrow. I never buy any because I spend my money on lychees instead.
posted by rtha at 5:20 PM on August 14, 2009


Finally someone posted information published in 2005 by a US government agency that tells us all what's OK to eat after it's gotten moldy.
posted by brando_calrissian at 5:24 PM on August 14, 2009


I guess nobody learns anything at home anymore.
posted by semmi at 5:33 PM on August 14, 2009


Cheese doesn't get bad, but it does get worse.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:37 PM on August 14, 2009


I love this section from How to Brew:
Symptom: White stuff/brown stuff/green stuff is floating/growing/moving.

Cause 1: Normal Fermentation The first time you look inside your fermentor, you will be treated to an amazing sight. There will be whitish yellow-brown foam on top of the wort, containing greenish areas of hops and resins. This is perfectly normal. Even if it appears slightly slimy, it is probably normal. Only if something hairy starts growing on top of the wort should you be concerned. I remember one guy reporting a dead bat floating in his fermentor...That was definitely cause for alarm.
Cure: Get another bat.

Cause 2: Mold A simple case of mold.
Cure: Mold can usually be just skimmed off with no lasting effect on the beer's flavor. Withdraw a sample of the wort with a siphon or turkey baster and taste it. If it tastes foul then its not worth keeping. Otherwise the beer was probably not harmed. Infections in beer caused by molds are not dangerous. Be meticulous in your sanitation and you should not have any problems.
posted by peeedro at 5:44 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The "does this milk smell funny to you?" of the web
posted by YoBananaBoy at 5:49 PM on August 14, 2009


I see they don't have any warnings about tea.

(GYOFBfilter: I did end up calling the FDA -- after confirming details like the serial number of the jug and the date of manufacture, they've apparently filed away my complaint in some vast database. If they receive enough, it triggers an investigation. In the meantime, I've been holding every container of liquid up to the light before I buy, darkroom-photography-style. And Red Diamond can go suck a bag of dicks slime molds.)
posted by Rhaomi at 5:59 PM on August 14, 2009


The only way to avoid poisoning is not to eat poisonous mushrooms.

what happens if I drink poison?
posted by sexyrobot at 6:19 PM on August 14, 2009 [3 favorites]


Have you spent a lifetime building up a resistance to iocane powder?
posted by Afroblanco at 6:23 PM on August 14, 2009


also: BONUS QUESTION: Why is silverware made out of silver?
A: Because silver turns black in the presence of arsenic...a handy trick if you're royalty.

aaaalso...whatever happened to "when in doubt, throw it out"? ...oh so many public service announcements advising me pitch my produce... the economy/the nation's topsoil reserves/the population growth must be in worse shape than we thought...TONIGHT'S FEATURE: Soylent Green!
posted by sexyrobot at 6:28 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Does this durian smell funny to you, or did you leave the stove on?

Yeah, the FDA does err in the bleachers of caution; they've not just destroyed meat (though one could argue they are simply reacting to modern meat processing) they've also had a pretty negative effect on slow food. I'm sure the quote Afroblanco cited will lead to an even more irrational public fear of wild mushrooms than already exists. And what's happened to canning cookbooks over the years has been pretty odd. No wonder folks don't think it's worth it. All of the government guidelines require you process the crispness and flavor out of anything you put by.

But I suppose I understand their concern and need to create guidelines for the lowest common denominator. "No, you can't sterilize that mason jar with hot tap water, n00b." They really aren't creating these things for folks comfortable in a kitchen. They're creating them for those without a lot of experience making their own food. Regular people, unfortunately.

Still, I found this chart a little encouraging. I would have suspected something much more conservative, like no advice at all, or some mascot, like Billy the Soft Cheese, parroting the catchphrase, "When in doubt, Throw it out!" This actually suggests some things can be trimmed and still eaten. I might even call this progress. In spite of their advice to cut the mold out your salami like you would the area around a rattlesnake bite.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:32 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


FDA USDA
posted by Toekneesan at 6:37 PM on August 14, 2009


I remember being slackjawed when my Home Ec teacher lectured us on not eating raw cookie dough or cake batter because RAW EGGS OMG DEATH. Has anyone, anywhere, ever died just from eating fresh raw eggs, or dough with raw eggs in it? Raw homemade chocolate chip cookie dough is a heavenly ambrosia, and at least 1/3 of the reason to make the damn cookies in the first place. Stupid Home Ec teacher.

I do throw out jelly with mold, because how can you tell with a dark colored jelly how much is molded? But cheese, yeah, just cut it off, there ya go. Moldy bread is also stale, why would you want to keep it?
posted by emjaybee at 6:42 PM on August 14, 2009


Reminds me of Steve, don't eat it!
posted by Nauip at 6:51 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]



"Reminds me of the oft-repeated stand-up comedy line "How can you tell when Sour Cream (or Yogurt) goes bad?" My rule of thumb: dairy products are not supposed to be fuzzy."

It is is standing on a street corner in something tight making eyes at passing cars it has gone bad.

I grow a lot of field corn for my fried cornbread breakfast so aflotoxin is a real worry for me.
posted by Iron Rat at 7:03 PM on August 14, 2009


Has anyone, anywhere, ever died just from eating fresh raw eggs, or dough with raw eggs in it?

Sure they have. But people die from drinking water. It's hard to find something that doesn't, rarely, kill people.
posted by Justinian at 7:24 PM on August 14, 2009


I have trouble trusting the USDA on issues of cooking and food safety. Oh, I don't mean they'll give you dangerous advce, only that they'll err so incredibly far on the side of caution that you might as well eat a flavorless mush. This list is actually less bad than usual. The advice is pretty decent. But a need to cut an entire inch of cheese away if there's a little mold on, say, a parmigiano-reggiano? Unless you've got a massive cheese block that's a huge fraction of the cheese you're tossing out. Might as well get a new one.

Justinian, if I could quadruple favorite your comment, I would!


Oh, and sexybot...

also: BONUS QUESTION: Why is silverware made out of silver?
A: Because silver turns black in the presence of arsenic...a handy trick if you're royalty.


Did you know that "gullible" is not in the dictionary? But "Occam's razor" is?
posted by IAmBroom at 7:39 PM on August 14, 2009


GOVERNMENT HITLERS OUT OF MY HEALTHCARE
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:01 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


A day or so before bread goes moldy, it will smell like beer.
posted by zinfandel at 8:12 PM on August 14, 2009


Step 1. Befriend a French person
Step 2. If they'll eat it, it's good to go

(warning: may result in toxoplasmosis)
(warning 2: steak tartare is delicious, but may cause omgihadit4hoursagoandcanstillfeelititis)
posted by kersplunk at 8:47 PM on August 14, 2009


Because silver turns black in the presence of arsenic.

y'know...i have heard this a bunch of times before...including college-level chemistry...but a search of the web turns up one positive result (from some ask.com wannabe site), so maybe it is bullshit...did find one mention of a silver test for poison...can't seem to find a description of the properties of silver arsenate...is it black? but i can't seem to find a reliable de-bunking either...please provide references if you can.

also...don't quite get how occam's razor applies here :\
posted by sexyrobot at 8:49 PM on August 14, 2009


So this is Obama's revised healthcare plan?
posted by blue_beetle at 8:58 PM on August 14, 2009


Finally a US government agency tells us all what's OK to eat after it's gotten moldy.

Finally, in september 2005.

(But, thanks for the link, it is very useful!)
posted by advil at 9:49 PM on August 14, 2009


Finally, in september 2005.

Well, let's face it. If something was moldy in September 2005, you probably don't want to eat it.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:47 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm reading a book called 'The Devil's Picnic' about a man who travels the world eating all the food that the USDA (or FDA? What's the difference?) bans in the US, and he claims that the reason they have such outrageous tips for cooking meat is that, rather than ensure meat products are free from things like e coli, they just accept that it'll be in there and tell people to cook it until it's dead three times over. As opposed to meat in Europe, where cows aren't fed rubbish and other dead cows and similar things, and therefore have no e coli and can be cooked to deliciousness.
posted by twirlypen at 1:42 AM on August 15, 2009


Wow. Most of this stuff I'd eat, and have eaten. Wary of the meat products, true, and I don't think I've ever met a mouldy nut, but scooping/scraping/cutting/picking off the moldy bits and consuming the remaining deliciousness has usually been my approach, and I don't recall ever even feeling sick as a result. Occasionally, yeah, I'll get lazy picking over the raspberries or whatever and eat one that definitely tastes like mould*, but have experienced no other ill effects.

The USDA are a bunch of wusses. (is?)

(And once I gave a friend some homemade yogurt and she left it in her fridge for about three months. She insisted it was still good, even after I opened it up and it smelt like sourdough starter. I extracted a spoonful from the depths of the container and it had gone uniformly mouldy, as in not just visible on the surface, but permeating the entirety of the organic matter. Definitely the worst case of mould I've seen, and unfortunately representative of the contents of her refrigerator. I don't give her food anymore.
I didn't eat that.)
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 3:02 AM on August 15, 2009


You would certainly know if you'd ever eaten a mouldy nut - it tastes very bad. And the taste lingers for quite a while, not just in your mouth but also up your nose.

I once turned a block of feta into something resembling a brie by misplacing it in the fridge for several months. It looked (and smelled) like quite good brie too, although I wasn't game enough to try it.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 4:04 AM on August 15, 2009


Very timely, with the recession and all.
posted by Houstonian at 7:02 AM on August 15, 2009


Well, since the date at the bottom of the table is: "September 2005", I'm not sure it's really fair or accurate to say "Finally a US government agency."

But hey, at least we've found another good excuse to mock the ineptitude and superfluity of our own government, eh? Easier that than turning the microscope on ourselves, I guess.

(On review, I guess Advil beat me to it.)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:55 AM on August 15, 2009


But hey, at least we've found another good excuse to mock the ineptitude and superfluity of our own government, eh? Easier that than turning the microscope on ourselves, I guess.

Well, perhaps the priority should be on safety in agricultural production. As twirlypen mentioned, the guidelines are overdone, and the reason for a lot of these rules is because there is an assumption of contamination coming from the farm production process. If we didn't allow this contamination, then we probably wouldn't need ridiculous guidelines by the government as to how to avoid food poisoning.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:28 PM on August 15, 2009


Exactly. The reason the guidelines are so crazy is that the USDA doesn't do its job. It's a perfect example of regulatory capture. Rather than make sure our food supply is clean (which would cost big ag profit) they just say, oh, if you cook it to the consistency of charcoal then it will be safe. MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
posted by Justinian at 9:48 PM on August 15, 2009


Well, by all accounts, they don't have the authority or the resources to do their job, now do they? And whose fault is that?
posted by saulgoodman at 6:58 AM on August 17, 2009


Well they also have to give blanket guidelines which makes it challenging to say that you can sometimes serve steak tartar and sometimes serve steak rare and that hamburger is a bit of a gamble and you might get sick unless you cook it well-done. That sort of stuff doesn't really fly as a government guideline.

Rather than make sure our food supply is clean (which would cost big ag profit)

Really? Aside from the conspiracy theory angle, imagine how they'd make it safe. Seriously. If they had an infinite amount of money, could the USDA prevent every single outbreak of food-borne illness? Doubtful.

I'm not sure it's really fair or accurate to say "Finally a US government agency."

I don't think I have ever used the word "finally" in a non-ironic context.
posted by GuyZero at 11:03 AM on August 17, 2009


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