Moldy bread can contain mycotoxins and pose a risk to your health. Contrary to what most of us think, cutting off the moldy parts won’t do it.
You kept a loaf of bread a little too long. Now, it’s gone moldy—and you’re wondering whether it’s still safe to eat or not. It’s a good thing you stopped by because the long answer short is “no.”
Never eat moldy bread; it can make you sick and cause breathing problems, especially if you’re allergic to mold. Cutting off parts of the bread won’t make it safer because mold spores can spread quickly and invisibly inside the loaf.
According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the best thing to do with moldy bread is to discard it. “Porous foods,” it says on the federal department’s website, “can be contaminated below the surface.”
A lot of people have the misconception that molds are generally harmless. They grow on cheese and moldy cheese is edible—heck, the French and Italians consider it a delicacy. So moldy bread is no different… right?
But the thing is, not all molds are created equal.
Not everyone knows that the molds that grow on blue cheese are not necessarily the same ones that grow on the stale bread you kept in the breadbox for one day too many.
Under certain conditions, certain molds can produce toxic compounds called “mycotoxins.” Mycotoxins, the World Health Organization explains on its website, “can cause a variety of adverse health effects.” So much so that they “pose a serious health threat to both humans and livestock.”
So don’t eat moldy bread. And when in doubt, throw it out. Even if you like to think you have a stomach of steel, food poisoning is nothing to joke about.
Can You Toast Moldy Bread?
Let’s take a minute or two to talk about another misconception that many of us have about moldy bread—namely, that toasting or cooking moldy bread will make it safe to eat again.
While it’s true that exposure to heat for a long enough period of time will kill the live molds on your food, it doesn’t do anything about the disease-causing mycotoxins that these molds have left in the food.
Baking, cooking, frying, or toasting moldy bread doesn’t make it any more edible than it was before. If you suspect that mold is growing on the bread you’re about to eat or put on the table, throw it away immediately. (For eco-friendly ways to dispose of moldy bread, read on below.)
So What Can Moldy Bread Be Used For?
Okay, we’ve established that you shouldn’t eat or cook with moldy bread because it’s bad for you. The next logical question is, what on earth are you supposed to do with it?
You can always throw it in the trash. But then it ends up in the landfill—and we all know that the landfill isn’t the best place for disposing of food, even if that food has gone bad or moldy.
This leads us to the more practical ways to dispose of moldy bread.
If you live in a community that collects organic waste, dispose of the bread in the organic waste garbage can with the rest of your food waste. For example, I live in Barcelona, Spain, where food waste is collected in brown garbage cans and then composted or converted to biogas.
If you compost at home, add the moldy bread to the compost pile. According to Pela, moldy bread is an ideal addition to the compost pile because its decomposition process has already started.
How Long Does It Take for Bread to Get Moldy?
Moldy bread is bread that isn’t safe to eat. And even if you have a good way to dispose of food waste, it’s much better to do all that you can to minimize it in the first place.
This requires a bit of knowledge and a little planning on your part. And while the planning is entirely up to you, we want to equip you with the knowledge you need to make sure your bread never goes moldy again.
As a general rule of thumb, bread will mold within 4 to 7 days. The hotter and more humid it is in your home, the faster the mold will appear.
To make your loaves of bread last longer, no matter if you baked them yourself or bought them from the supermarket, store them in breathable bread bags made of cotton or linen. Avoid wrapping bread in plastic wrap or storing it in plastic bags; it will sweat and mold faster.
The only good place for moldy bread is the compost or, if your community recycles organic waste, the brown food garbage can down the street. And the best thing you can do with moldy bread is to keep it from getting moldy in the first place by storing it properly and eating it within 4 to 7 days.