You may see white spots on your bread and wonder if it is mold or flour. It is easier to distinguish between the two if you inspect the spot over a few days, since mold will grow and change color, while flour spots will remain the same.
There are preservatives, like calcium propionate and potassium sorbate, that can be added to some breads to prevent mold growth and extend shelf life. However, they are not healthy for you and can have side effects.
It’s Not Dangerous
If you store your bread in a humid place, it might grow white to green fuzzy coverage after a few days. This is called mold and it’s a good indicator that there is an issue with water drainage in your house, says eHow. Mold is a necessary part of nature and is crucial for soil enrichment, but it can become a nuisance indoors, especially in places with excessive moisture.
The most common causes of bread mold are high humidity, warmth and lack of airflow in storage containers. When a loaf of bread is stored in these conditions, the spores that cause mold growth can transfer to other surfaces. This is how one spot of mold on a piece of bread can spread to the entire loaf in a matter of days.
While some types of mold are toxic, the type of mold that grows on your ciabatta or sourdough isn’t. But that doesn’t mean you can eat your fungus-infected sandwich without risking illness. Eating moldy foods like bread, cheese or fruits can expose you to harmful mycotoxins, which can cause food poisoning and other health problems if eaten in large quantities.
Thankfully, you can avoid this by storing your food in a cool and dry location and handling it with clean hands. Also, by evaluating the color of the mold and the texture of the bread to determine if it’s mold or flour. Flour will have a bright, powdery appearance while mold is off-white and sometimes tinged with green or blue.
You can also test the bread to see if it’s moldy or not by smelling it. Moldy bread will have a musty and unpleasant smell while flour has a neutral odor. It’s best to discard any food that has white spots of mold on it, even if it is just on one slice. Breathing in mold spores can cause respiratory issues and allergies.
If you can tell that it’s mold and not flour, you can still eat the bread if you want to. However, it’s important to eat it with caution as some molds can produce mycotoxins that are dangerous for people with weak immune systems or allergies.
It’s Not Harmful
Whether you love to make Instagrammable avocado toast or assemble New York deli-worthy sandwiches, it’s likely that you keep a loaf of bread in your fridge at all times. Unfortunately, if you leave your bread out for too long, it may be affected by white mold. The good news is that it’s not harmful if you simply cut off the affected areas of your loaf and continue eating. The bad news is that if you inhale or ingest the mold spores, you could become sick.
Mold grows on bread because it thrives in warm, damp environments. It feeds on the starch and other nutrients found in the food and absorbs and releases spores that cause it to grow ( 2 ). If you store your bread properly, it should stay fresher for longer — even without preservatives.
White mold on bread typically appears as dull and dirty white splotches that can contain hints of green or blue. The spots are fuzzy and tend to grow in size over time. To check if the marks on your bread are flour or mold, use your sense of smell. Flour has a neutral odor, while mold gives off a musty, unpleasant aroma.
It’s important to distinguish between white spots on your bread and mold because the latter can be toxic. Inhaling mold spores can cause allergies and other health problems, such as sneezing, itching, rashes, and breathing difficulties ( 3 ). Eating moldy foods can also lead to illness, including diarrhea, vomiting, fever, or organ damage ( 4 ).
Many people mistakenly believe that they can safely eat food if they only cut off the visible mold. Feng warns that this logic doesn’t hold when it comes to soft or wet foods, like sandwich bread or fruit. This is because the roots of mold are often buried underneath the surface of the food, meaning that you may unknowingly inhale or ingest the spores even after cutting off the infected sections of your loaf. In addition, the spores can spread through the rest of the loaf, making it unsafe to eat.
It’s Not Allergenic
If you’re a bread lover, the sight of white spots on your beloved loaf can be heartbreaking. But it’s important to know whether those little flecks of discoloration are safe to eat, or if they could make you sick. In many cases, you can safely eat moldy bread if it is only in small, isolated patches. However, if you see a lot of mold on the food, you should throw it away to avoid ingesting harmful mycotoxins.
Mycotoxins are toxic compounds produced by certain types of molds, according to Healthline. These substances can affect the digestive tract and lead to nausea, cramping, or even vomiting. The most common mycotoxins are aflatoxins, which can cause liver damage and other health problems.
The USDA recommends throwing away any food that has a heavy amount of mold. If you see a lot of green or black mold on your bread, it is likely that the roots of the fungi have infiltrated most or all of the loaf, and so the food is unsafe to eat.
It is also not recommended to cut off the visible mold from a loaf of bread, as this can spread the spores throughout the entire loaf. It’s also not a good idea to smell the bread for traces of mold, as inhaling these spores can trigger asthma and other respiratory issues in people who are sensitive to them.
In addition to the visual inspection of the bread, you can test its safety by scraping off a small patch and sniffing it. It should be unmistakably spoiled by mold if it won’t easily sweep off with a knife or your finger and has an unpleasant odor. Using this method is a good alternative to visually inspecting the bread, since it can be difficult to spot mold if it has grown in between the grains of the loaf. This method is particularly useful for individuals with weakened immune systems, as it can help to detect potential harmful molds that they might not be able to detect by sight alone. The sniffing test is not a foolproof method, though, as some thin layers of mold may resemble flour or dust.
It’s Not Infectious
The white spots on bread are either flour or mold. It is important to know the difference between the two so that you can safely eat or not eat your food. While flour is safe to eat, mold can be dangerous, especially for those with weak immune systems. Molds produce toxins known as mycotoxins, which can be harmful when eaten in large quantities. Eating moldy food can also cause infections in the lungs, sinuses, eyes, or skin.
Molds usually grow in warm, moist, and dark environments. They thrive in foods that provide them with plenty of nutrients, such as bread. Mold spores can also spread from one food to another by air, water, or surfaces. They can even travel long distances and invade homes and offices.
Bread is a soft food that can easily absorb and trap moisture, which encourages mold growth. It is often stored in plastic bags or closed containers, where it can also become wet from condensation. When stored improperly, bread can also quickly go stale or moldy.
Most people are aware of the smell of moldy bread, which has a distinct musky and fusty odor. However, many people are not aware that inhaling mold spores can cause health problems, such as respiratory issues, allergies, or infection (depending on the type of mold).
Eating moldy bread can lead to food poisoning, which is a serious condition that occurs when you consume contaminated food. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, fever, headache, and dehydration. Food poisoning can be dangerous for young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems.
Moldy bread should be thrown away, regardless of whether only a small amount of it is visible. Mold spores can spread to other parts of the loaf, and eating it could make you sick. In addition, molds can also release mycotoxins into the air, which can infect you if you breathe them in. However, if only a small area of the bread has mold, it may be safe to eat, if you can cut off the moldy areas and avoid inhaling the mycotoxins.