How Safe Is Moldy Food To Eat?

A Professor's Perspective On Current Events

Image of Professor Ken Albala, Ph.D.
By Professor Ken Albala, Ph.D.

What do you do with questionable edible food? Is the sniff-test accurate? Professor Ken Albala, a food historian, weighs in on the safety of eating moldy bread.

This article originally premiered on NPR.

There are so many different kinds of mold, many of which are perfectly benign and even delicious, like the whitish powder on the outside of brie cheese or a good naturally cured salami. There’s also koji mold, one of the cornerstones of Japanese cuisine. It’s used to make sake and miso and many people are now experimenting with it to cure meat. So mold shouldn’t be feared. I think we are about to appreciate mold in the ways we have been learning to love natural bacteria as a probiotic and as a culinary flavoring (in pickles, cheese, cured meat, sourdough bread, etc.)

This article is part of our Professor’s Perspective series—a place for experts to share their views and opinions on current events.

But the mold on bread neither tastes good nor is it good for you. Why anyone in their right mind would want to eat moldy bread, I can’t imagine. So I’m not really sure who this article is talking about. If you have mold on your bread throw it away. If it’s a little spot or two, I do often scrape it off, with no ill effects. But if it’s greenish and hairy, of course, toss it!

For more with Professor Albala, check out “Food: A Cultural Culinary History” on the Great Courses Plus!