What kinds of illnesses can result from eating moldy food?

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

Some molds produce mycotoxins, which are poisonous substances.  These types of mold are found primarily in grain and nut crops, but they can also be found on celery, grape juice, apples, and other produce.
Probably the best known mycotoxin is aflatoxin, which can cause liver toxicity and cancer.  It is produced by certain fungi that grow on foods and feeds, especially in field corn and peanuts.
Aflatoxin is associated with aflatoxicosis in livestock, domestic animals, and humans throughout the world. Aflatoxins are considered “unavoidable contaminants” of food and feed. The FDA and the USDA monitor peanuts and field corn for aflatoxin.  If these commodities contain aflatoxin levels that exceed the allowable limits, these governmental agencies can remove them from the market place.
fsis.usda.com. “Safe Food Handling / Molds On Food: Are They Dangerous?”
Jones, J.M. 1992.  Food Safety.  Ch. 7.  “Molds and Mycotoxins.”  Eagen Press, St. Paul, MN.  Pp. 141-155.
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.


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