There’s no question that some mold is very dangerous for your health. However, not all types of mold can make you sick. Furthermore, there’s no need to throw out every single piece of food that has mold on it. It’s simply a matter of knowing what kinds of moldy food to toss out, and which types are still safe to eat.
An easy way to do this is to take a close look at the select moldy foods you can eat. (If we zoomed in on all the moldy foods you can’t eat, we’d be here all night.) It’s worth keeping in mind that every food on this list needs to be handled a different way before you take a bite. Some moldy foods need to be scrubbed before eating, while others need the mold cut out with a knife. Luckily, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has very clear directions for handling mold on food safely moving forward. Check out the rules for moldy foods you can eat below — along with any caveats that apply to them.
1. Hard Salami
Surface mold is super common on hard salami. If you spot it, simply scrub it off before you dig in, and you should be in the clear.
2. Dry-Cured Country Hams
As a shelf-stable food like hard salami, dry-cured country ham can also have some surface mold. Just handle this dish the same way you would salami: Scrub off all the mold before eating.
3. Hard Cheese
Mold typically doesn’t penetrate too deeply into hard cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan, according to the Mayo Clinic. To use safely, cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Be sure to keep the knife away from the actual mold itself so that it doesn’t harm other parts of the cheese. When you re-cover this cheese, remember to use a fresh wrap.
Important: Any cheese — hard, semisoft, or soft — that has been shredded, crumbled, or sliced should be tossed immediately if you see any mold.
4. Cheese Made With Mold
This is perhaps the most obvious food with mold that’s safe to eat. After all, with no mold, there would be no creamy Brie or fancy Camembert in the first place. However, it’s crucial that you confirm there is no new mold creeping in on your cheese since you bought it: Molds that are not part of the original manufacturing process can be super dangerous.
If you spot any new mold on a soft cheese made with mold, discard the whole thing. But if you spy new mold on a hard cheese made with mold — like Gorgonzola or Stilton — you can handle it like hard cheese by cutting off the mold at least one inch around and below the mold spot. Again, keep that knife away from the actual mold pieces!
5. Firm Fruits and Vegetables
Think: carrots, cabbage, and bell peppers. Since these firm pieces of produce have low moisture content, it’s hard for small mold spots to penetrate too deeply below the surface. Treat these foods like hard cheese — cut off at least one inch around and below the mold spot and keep the knife far from the mold.
Remember: When in doubt, throw it out. Your health should always come first!