What Happens If You Accidentally Eat Mold?

There are few things more disappointing than being in the mood for a simple slice of toast, then realizing your bread has been contaminated with specks of fuzzy green mold. Sometimes it's the whole loaf that's affected. Other times, it's only certain areas that you can easily cut off. But what if you're in a rush and only notice the mold after you've taken a bite? If you've ever eaten any sort of moldy food accidentally (or just took a risk that you now regret), don't fret. In most cases, it's not a big deal. 

According to Thrillist, your digestive and immune systems should have it all taken care of. As long as you're relatively healthy and don't have a mold allergy, the gastric acid in your stomach, along with your immune response, should keep you from getting ill. Any vomiting or nausea you might experience would be more likely to happen because of your personal disgust. Technically speaking, your body doesn't need to purge any ingested mold. 

Don't take this as a go-ahead to chow down on fuzzy food, however. Mold is not 100 percent safe and, in certain cases, can make even healthy folks pretty sick. A kind of mold known as mycotoxins is even linked to cancer, says the World Health Organization. To be fair, these are usually only present in agricultural environments and hopefully not in your home kitchen. Still, if you want to be certain that you're safe, you'll be best off tossing that moldy food.

If you cut mold off food, is it safe to eat?

According to the USDA, most moldy foods are just too risky to eat. That applies when food is fully covered in mold and even when you can cut off the affected part. The only exceptions are long-lasting hard cheeses, cured meats, and certain fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables with low moisture content and density, such as carrots or cabbage, can potentially be salvaged. Just make sure they haven't gone soft, then cut away the affected spot at least one inch around the mold. Be careful not to touch the mold with your knife, lest cross-contamination occur.

The same method applies to hard cheeses, too. With cured meat, however, it's okay to just scrub the fuzzy stuff off, as surface mold is a natural part of this product and should be safe. That said, any other type of food must be discarded whenever mold is present, as the risk of getting sick from contaminated foodstuffs is higher and simply isn't worth the risk to your health. 

All told, it's best to just not go out of your way to consume moldy food of any kind. However, if it does happen by accident, know that it's not the worst thing in the world. Just remember to take a more careful look at your meal before you dig in next time.