What food groups are most susceptible to mold?

By Susan Brewer, Ph.D., University of Illinois,
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

  • Bread is not a high-water product, but because mold doesn’t require as much water as bacteria, most bread will mold.  For that reason, most bread contains added mold inhibitors. Under ideal conditions for mold growth, a loaf of bread (without mold inhibitors) can be completely covered with mold in 3 days.
  • Molds tolerate salt, so they can grow in cured meats (ham, bacon, salami, bologna) .
  • Molds can tolerate the sugar and acid in jelly and jam, so they can grow in these products, even in the refrigerator. 
  • Molds can also grow in other high-acid foods such as pickles, fruit, and tomatoes.  Mold can completely consume a peach in 6 days.
  • Molds require oxygen (albeit a small amount), so they can grow inside of some cheese.

Mortimer, S. and Wallace, C. 1998.  HACCP: A Practical Approach.  Ch. 7. “An Introduction to Hazards and Their Control.”  Aspen Publishers, Gaithersburg, MD. Pp. 78-80.
Suite101.com. Reinhardt, D. 2009. “Importance and Significance of Molds and Yeast.”  “The Basic Features, Habits, and Characteristics of Mold and Yeast.” 


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