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Is it dangerous to eat moldy food?

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It used to be believed that no harm came from eating moldy food. However, we now know that some molds produce mycotoxins, which if ingested, are capable of causing diseases in humans and animals. The effects include skin irritation, diuretic effects, liver damage, widespread body hemorrhages, neurotoxic actions, hormonal stimulation and mutagenic and carcinogenic actions. Many mycotoxins are heat stable and their toxins are not destroyed by normal cooking temperatures. While the mold grows on the surface of the food, the toxins produced can seep down into the food so scraping off the mold is not sufficient. Do not smell moldy foods.

PREPARED BY: Angela M. Fraser, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Food Safety Specialist, and Carolyn J. Lackey, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N., Professor/Food and Nutrition Specialist, North Carolina State University (August 2004)

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