Fungus Growth on Food

Overview

Fungus growth on food, commonly in the form of mold , can occur in a variety of species and toxicity levels. Some molds contain poisonous mycotoxins, which can cause illness or even death if eaten.

Causes

Fungus growth occurs naturally, worldwide, in virtually any moist and dark environment. When spores dry out they can become airborne and find favorable places to start their life cycle over, like dark pantries or refrigerators.

Surface Mold

It is a common misconception that fungus only grows on the surface of foods. If visible fungus has formed on the outside of food, it is likely they have already grown root threads that extend into the food.

Types of Food Fungus

It has not been confirmed exactly how many different species of fungus exist, but it is believed around 300,000 different types. Fungus growth on food can appear white, green, black, or brown.

Safe Fungus

Some fungus, particularly roqueforti spores are used in the production of some cheeses like Gorgonzola, Brie, and Roquefort. This fungus is safe to eat and has been introduced to add flavor to the cheese.

Prevention/Solution

Cleanliness is paramount for keeping fungus and mold growth under control. Spores can build up inside of the refrigerator, on dishrags, or utensils. Keeping the humidity inside the house under control will also hinder the spread and growth of mold.

References

  • United States Department of Agriculture: Molds on Food, Are They Dangerous?
  • The University of Hawaii: Fungal Diversity
Keywords: food fungus, mold, fungal
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