Have you ever removed a moldy piece from a fruit or vegetable and eaten the rest? You should know that this practice carries health risks, since very watery foods may have developed mold from within. What we see moldy is only part of the food, most likely the rest of the product is completely contaminated.
Surely you have ever glimpsed how your shower tray or bathtub fills up without prior notice of a disgusting black mass which is very repulsive. Perhaps you have also detected how certain dark spots appear magically from some corner of your wall, unpleasant little dots that do not bode well.
It is very common since mold always finds nooks and crannies through which to appear and wreak havoc. Mold is in its sauce when it comes to humid and hot environments. Hence, its development is a real problem in food. Because yes, mold loves food. Food turns out to be an ideal environment full of water and nutrients, hence the microbes do not want to be separated from them.
What is mold and how does it grow?
Molds are microscopic organisms belonging to the kingdom fungi, commonly known as mushrooms. But even if they are microscopic, it is true that you see it in food. You see those spots, that hair that comes out of the tomato without warning and that gives you anguish that you die. However, what you are visualizing is only an external manifestation of the fungus. That kind of filamentous tissue that we see in food is called mycelium, and it is made up of mold hyphae: those branching filaments.
If we see a food with mold through the microscope we will find numerous sporangia, which are little balls that contain the mold spores through which it spreads. Bottom line: mold itself is microscopic, you can’t see it. What you are seeing is only a part of him that has grown excessively and is manifesting outwards.
In fact, mold is quite versatile since, as long as there is humidity, it does not matter if the environment is rather cold and also if there is no sunlight. When there is humidity, the fungus manages to grow wonderfully. Although many molds present visible alterations in the food, the truth is that sometimes they behave like real ninjas: they show no sign of their presence. In this way, they are dedicated to synthesizing certain toxic compounds with a rather worrisome potential for health: mycotoxins.
How to avoid mycotoxins
Mycotoxins are toxic compounds synthesized by some types of molds that can reach our pantry through some contaminated foods. And unfortunately, we do not have the ability to notice that they are there. because mycotoxins do not alter the taste of food, nor do they show signs of their presence. Its presence goes completely unnoticed to our senses. If a food is contaminated by mold, we usually realize it and choose not to eat it. But when there are mycotoxins we don’t have sensory tools to realize the problem.
Therefore, the most notable danger of mycotoxins lies in their difficult identification, since we will not always be able to detect them through our senses. With regard to health, the main problem of mycotoxins does not lie in accidental consumption, but in the cumulative intake of the toxin which can increase the risk of certain diseases in the liver, kidneys and also some types of cancer.
The food industry takes the presence of mycotoxins in our food very seriously, and therefore makes great efforts to identify with pinpoint precision those environments where the development of mycotoxins and mold is most conducive. Generally, the critical stages are the storage of raw materials in large warehouses and warehouses. Since we are talking about long-lasting foods, the risk of generating mycotoxins is longer. This obliges the legislation to establish very strict levels of mycotoxins in foods such as spices and nuts.
Foods with higher risk of containing mycotoxins
Some foods present a higher risk of containing mycotoxins than others, for example nuts, cereals, legumes and spices. Generally, foods with a low water activity and dry where it is more difficult for pathogenic microorganisms to grow. Instead, mycotoxin-producing molds are in your sauce. As we said previously, the foods most susceptible to harboring mycotoxins are those that are stored for many months in environments with humidity and temperature It can favor the development of molds.
On the other hand, and although they are not leading foods as far as mycotoxins are concerned, it is true that some types of fruit can also be victims of mycotoxin production. Fruits are foods predisposed to the habitual development of certain molds, both due to their own humidity and because of pests. For all these reasons, it is crucial to establish strict vigilance in the stages of storage and transport of food.
If we want to reinforce caution in our home, there are certain simple guidelines that we can carry out without much frills or head warming. Among other recommendations, one of the most important is that don’t smell moldy food, much less eat them. When food has developed mold, the best option is to throw it away, no matter how much it hurts. The visible part, those “hairs,” are just the tip of the iceberg. Remember this when you find a rotten orange in the fruit bowl.