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Blue cheese and green bread.

Although molds have their uses--from producing penicillin to curing cheeses--they are not welcome visitors to our kitchens. But are they harmful?

Most molds are, in fact, harmless, and their appearance on certain foods is no reason to consign the affected food to the garbage can. Some, however, are harmful, producing a substance called aflatoxin, which is believed to be a factor in the development of liver cancer and other diseases of the liver.

Certain grains and other agricultural products are particularly susceptible to these molds. These include corn, wheat, oats, rice, sweet potatoes, dried peas, peanuts, and coconut.

Eating a small amount of any mold is not likely to cause any serious health problem, but it is important to know which foods are more likely to attract molds that can be harmful. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends the following:

Don't smell moldy food; some molds can cause some respiratory problems.

Cut away small moldy spots on hard cheese, salami, and firm fruits and vegetables. Keep the knife out of the mold and remove about an inch of untainted area around and below the mold. Use fresh wrap after removing the mold.

Scoop out tiny spots of mold from jelly or jam. Then use a clean spoon to remove a larger area around the spot. Throw out the jam if it tastes fermented.

Throw out any of the following if they are even slightly moldy: individual cheese slices, soft cheese, cottage cheese, cream, sour cream, yogurt, bread, cake, buns, pastry, corn on the cob, nuts, flour, whole grains, rice, dried peas and beans, and peanut butter.

Avoid aflatoxin-contaminated food by buying well-known national brands of peanut butter, all of which contained the lowest aflatoxin levels when tested by Consumer Reports.

Aflatoxins can be found in most nuts. Always discard any moldy, discolored, or shriveled nuts. If a nut tastes bad, spit it out.

If you find mold on sprouted grains that you purchase or sprout yourself, throw them out.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Benjamin Franklin Literary & Medical Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:molds on food
Publication:Medical Update
Date:Jun 1, 1992
Previous Article:Don't tempt Thor.
Next Article:"Iron-poor blood" - not for self-treatment.

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