Sunday 20 September 2015


                                Mould in Food: Are They Dangerous?

When you see Mould on food, is it safe to cut off the Mouldy part and use the rest? That’s an interesting question. Unlike bacteria that are one-celled, Moulds are made of many cells and can sometimes be seen with the naked eye. Under a microscope, they look like skinny mushrooms. In many Moulds, the body consists of:
·         Root threads that invade the food it lives on,
·         A stalk rising above the food, and
·         Spores that form at the ends of the stalks.
The spores give Mould the color you see. When airborne, the spores spread the Mould from place to place like dandelion seeds blowing across a meadow. Moulds have branches and roots that are like very thin threads. The roots may be difficult to see when the Mould is growing on food and may be very deep in the food. Foods that are Mouldy may also have invisible bacteria growing along with the Mould.
We’ve seen that some Moulds cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. And a few Moulds produce “mycotoxins,” poisonous substances that can make you sick.
Are Moulds only on the surface of food? No, you only see part of the Mould on the surface of food — gray fur on forgotten bologna, fuzzy green dots on bread, coin-size velvety circles on fruits, and furry growth on the surface of jellies. When a food shows heavy Mould growth, “root” threads have invaded it deeply. In dangerous Moulds, poisonous substances are often contained in and around these threads. In some cases, toxins may have spread throughout the food.
Some common foodborne Moulds: Moulds most often found on meat and poultry are Alternaria, Aspergillus, Botrytis, Cladosporium, Fusarium, Geotrichum, Monilia, Manoscus, Mortierella, Mucor, Neurospora, Oidium, Oosproa, Penicillium, Rhizopus and Thamnidium. These Moulds can also be found on many other foods.
Is Aflatoxin Really Toxic? Aflatoxin is a mycotoxin and an identified cancer-causing poison produced by certain fungi in or on foods and feeds, especially in field corn and peanuts. They are probably the best known and most intensively researched mycotoxins globally. The prevention of aflatoxin is one of the most challenging toxicology issues of present time. Aflatoxins are considered unavoidable contaminants of food and feed, even where good manufacturing practices have been followed. If it is detected in a consignment, that consignment is destroyed.
Mushroom Poisoning: Mushroom poisoning is caused by the consumption of raw or cooked mushrooms, which are higher-species of fungi. Fungi are themselves higher-species of Mould.
If you're not absolutely sure that a mushroom that you see is safe to eat, then do not eat it. You should also avoid eating:
·         Raw Mushrooms. Most wild mushrooms are difficult to digest when raw. If you do find wild mushrooms that you trust, make sure to cook them well, preferably stewed or fried.
·         Decaying or Old Mushrooms. If you're picking mushrooms you only want whole, firm, and fresh mushrooms with thick stems and no damage to the body from insects or other animals. If you
think a mushroom may have had a bite taken out of it, leave it alone.
·         Parasols. Avoid parasol-shaped mushrooms, or mushrooms that look like wide-open umbrellas with white rings around the stem and white, milky gills at all cost. A simple rule is: Stay away from brightly colored or spotted mushrooms. They may be Amanitas, mushrooms full of one of nature's deadliest poisons. Also avoid the green-spored Lepiota, which is common to North America.                                                                 
·         False Morels. Another type of mushroom to avoid is the so-called "false morel." If you see a mushroom with wrinkled, irregular caps that look like brain coral or saddles, with a bottom edge that hangs free around the base, avoid it.
·         If you're interested in foraging for mushrooms, there are a number of books you can take with you.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  There is no general rule of thumb for distinguishing edible mushrooms from poisonous toadstools. The toxins that cause mushroom poisoning are produced naturally by the fungi. Most mushrooms that cause human poisoning cannot be made safe by cooking, canning, freezing, or any other processing.
Beneficial Food Moulds: Moulds are used to make certain kinds of cheeses and can be on the surface of cheese or be developed internally. Blue veined cheese such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, and Stilton are created by the introduction of P. roqueforti or Penicillium roqueforti spores. Brie and Camembert have white surface Moulds. Other cheeses have both an internal and a surface Mould. The Moulds used to manufacture these cheeses are safe to eat.
Examine food well before you buy it. Check food in glass jars, look at the stem areas on fresh produce, and avoid bruised produce. Fresh meat and poultry are usually Mould free, but cured and cooked meats may not be. Examine them carefully. Exceptions: Some salamis — San Francisco, Italian, and Eastern European types — have a characteristic thin, white Mould coating which is safe to consume; however, they shouldn’t show any other Mould. Dry-cured country hams normally have surface Mould that must be scrubbed off before cooking.
Protecting Food from Mould
·         When serving food, keep it covered to prevent exposure to Mould spores in the air. Use plastic wrap to cover foods you want to stay moist — fresh or cut fruits and vegetables, and green and mixed salads.
·         Empty opened cans of perishable foods into clean storage containers and refrigerate them promptly.
·         Don’t leave any perishables out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
·         Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days so Mould doesn’t have a chance to grow.

Handling Mouldy Food
Buying small amounts and using food quickly can help prevent Mould growth. When you see Mouldy food:
o   Don’t sniff the Mouldy item. This can cause respiratory trouble.
o   If food is covered with Mould, discard it. Put it into a small paper bag or wrap it in plastic and dispose in a covered trash can that children and animals can’t get into.
o   Clean the refrigerator or pantry at the spot where the food was stored.
o   Check nearby items the Mouldy food might have touched. Mould spreads quickly in fruits and vegetables.
Luncheon meats, bacon, or hot dogs
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Mouldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Hard salami and dry-cured country hams
Use. Scrub Mould off surface.
It is normal for these shelf-stable products to have surface Mould.
Cooked leftover meat and poultry
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Mouldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Cooked casseroles
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Mouldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Cooked grain and pasta
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Mouldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Hard cheese (not cheese where Mould is part of the processing)
Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the Mould spot (keep the knife out of the Mould itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the Mould, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap.
Mould generally cannot penetrate deep into the product.
Cheese made with Mould (such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, Camembert)
Discard soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert if they contain Moulds that are not a part of the manufacturing process. If surface Mould is on hard cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Stilton, cut off Mould at least 1 inch around and below the Mould spot and handle like hard cheese (above).
Moulds that are not a part of the manufacturing process can be dangerous.
Soft cheese (such as cottage, cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre, Bel Paese, etc.). Crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses (all types)
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Shredded, sliced, or crumbled cheese can be contaminated by the cutting instrument. Mouldy soft cheese can also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Yogurt and sour cream
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Mouldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the Mould.
Jams and jellies
The Mould could be producing a mycotoxin. Microbiologists recommend against scooping out the Mould and using the remaining condiment.
Fruits and vegetables, FIRM (such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.)
Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the Mould spot (keep the knife out of the Mould itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce).
Small Mould spots can be cut off FIRM fruits and vegetables with low moisture content. It’s difficult for Mould to penetrate dense foods.
Fruits and vegetables, SOFT (such as cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, etc.)
SOFT Fruits and vegetables with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface.
Bread and baked goods
Porous foods can be contaminated below the surface.
Peanut butter, legumes and nuts
Foods processed without preservatives are at high risk for Mould.
Chart 2
Illnesses Caused by Mould and Their Treatment
It has not been proved that Mould causes Asthma. Recent studies have suggested a potential link of early Mould exposure to development of asthma in some children, particularly among children who may be genetically susceptible to asthma development, and that selected interventions that improve housing conditions can reduce morbidity from asthma and respiratory allergies, but more research is needed in this regard.
Things that make asthma worse are called triggers and inhaling Mould spores is a common asthmatic trigger. So, when your asthma worsens due to Mould, you are said to have a Mould allergy to asthma. Of the many types of Mould, Alternaria, a common outdoor Mould, is associated with severe asthma.
Actions you can take
·         If Mould is a problem in your home, you need to clean up the Mould and eliminate sources of moisture.
·         If you see Mould on hard surfaces, clean it up with soap and water. Let the area dry completely.
·         Use exhaust fans or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
·         Fix water leaks as soon as possible to keep Mould from growing.
·         Dry damp or wet things completely within one to two days to keep Mould from growing.
·         Maintain low indoor humidity, ideally between 30-50% relative humidity. Humidity levels can be measured by hygrometers, which are available at local hardware stores.
Mould Exposure Treatment Options
If a patient feels fine with simple removal from exposure, no more steps are needed.
For people sensitive to Moulds, exposure to Moulds can cause symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, eye irritation, wheezing, or skin irritation. Some people, such as those with serious allergies to Moulds, may have more severe reactions. Severe reactions may occur among workers exposed to large amounts of Moulds in occupational settings, such as farmers working around Mouldy hay. Severe reactions may include fever and shortness of breath. Some people with chronic lung illnesses, such as obstructive lung disease, may develop Mould infections in their lungs.
In 2004 the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found there was sufficient evidence to link indoor exposure to Mould with upper respiratory tract symptoms, cough, and wheeze in otherwise healthy people; with asthma symptoms in people with asthma; and with hypersensitivity pneumonitis in individuals susceptible to that immune-mediated condition. The IOM also found limited or suggestive evidence linking indoor Mould exposure and respiratory illness in otherwise healthy children.
There are a wide variety of treatment options for Mould exposure, starting with drug alleviation. Drug options include:
·         Cholestyramine (CSM) is commonly prescribed for Mould exposure. This is a bile acid sequestrant, which binds bile in the gastrointestinal tract to prevent its reabsorption. It also works as a mycotoxin binding agent. CSM can be compounded to contain no sugar. (One pharmacy which does this is Hopkinton Drug.) It is important to take CSM two hours before or after any nutritional supplements, as it will bind these as well.
·         Activated charcoal and bentonite clay are two natural binding agents and often taken with CSM.
·         Antifungal drugs. These include the plyenes, the triazoles and imidazoles, allylamines and more. Nystatin is an example of an antifungal drug. Antifungal drugs can be taken in nasal spray form.
·         Low-dose Naltrexone. Naltrexone is an opioid receptor antagonist. Low-dose Naltrexone (LDN) has been shown to be effective in treating immunologically related disorders (ibid).
What Type Of Doctor Should I See Concerning Mould Exposure?
You should first consult a family or general health care provider who will decide whether you need referral to a specialist. Such specialists might include an allergist who treats patients with Mould allergies or an infectious disease physician who treats Mould infections. If an infection is in the lungs, a pulmonary physician might be recommended. Patients who have been exposed to Moulds in their workplace may be referred to an occupational physician.
The level of knowledge regarding toxic Mould varies. You might have to check online for physicians who can attend to you.
Natural Options (often integrated with conventional medical therapies):
·         CholestePure is often suggested as a natural option for those who cannot tolerate or want to avoid cholestyramine.
·         Garlic, oil of oregano, pau d'arco, olive leaf extract, caprylic acid (found in coconuts), barberry, and grapefruit seed extract are some of the natural antifungals.
·         Glutathione therapy is often vital to recovery. For more information, see this article.
Skin Remedies
·         Rashes often appear during Mould exposure, as well as during the detox process.
·         Ketoconazole cream is a topical antifungal cream. Other skin remedies include tea tree oil,
coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and grapefruit seed extract (diluted).
·         Charcoal soap can be used as a detox agent. It can be combined with ketaconazole shampoo lather.
·         Epsom salt baths are helpful. More detox bath alternatives are listed here.
Antifungal Diet: One goal of an antifungal diet is to starve the fungus, thereby halting the cycle that often occurs. Sugars and processed carbohydrates feed the fungus. A helpful comparison of various antifungal diets, including a downloadable chart is available online. Select a diet after consulting your doctor.
Fungi and yeasts can become parasitic organisms on and inside our body, causing health problems that can be difficult to diagnose. Often and unknowingly, we feed these parasites via our diet. Fungi crave sugar, and if you have a fungal infection, their cravings often become your cravings. Sugar does not simply come in the form of candy, soda and other obvious “junk foods”; the carbohydrates from grains, potatoes, corn and corn products, certain fruits, breads, pasta, alcohol and other staples of our standard diet are just as effective at feeding a parasitic fungal organism.
When beginning an antifungal diet, some might experience an exacerbation of symptoms, initially, and some might experience flu-like symptoms or other intense discomfort. This reaction is known as a Herxheimer reaction, and it could be the result of fungal die-off. As fungi begin to die and their poisonous byproducts begin flushing out of your system, it can cause discomfort, symptoms of being sick or an initial worsening of existing problems. This is temporary, and somewhat ironically, it may be a good sign that you’ve taken the first step towards better health––ridding your body of a health-destroying, parasitic organism.
For others, results may not be so quick or so dramatic. For those whose results come more slowly: Please give the diet time to work. Your health problems likely did not develop overnight, and any solution will not likely resolve your problems overnight, either.
While the idea of abstaining from their favorite foods does not sound particularly appealing to most people, their mind is often changed by how good they feel after following the diet for 30 or 60 days. And, people generally find their tastes change; after eliminating sugar for a month, the ice-cream, soda or candy that many crave now taste nauseatingly sweet.
Most dairy products contain a sugar called lactose. Avoiding lactose, like any other kind of sugar, is key to a diet. Pathogenic fungi necessitate sugar to survive, and they aren’t picky about where that sugar comes from. Avoiding all kinds of sugar is recommended, even sugar from dairy. This includes milk, cream and cheeses. Instead, opt for plain, organic (preferably derived from grass-fed cows) yogurt.
Brain Retraining: The entire body is impacted by Mould exposure. Digestive tracts are hit hard, and so are endocrine systems. The brain is invariably involved. Brain retraining programs often play a part in recovery.
Alternative Health Options: A wide variety of alternative health options exist. Practitioners may not be familiar with the specifics of Mould exposure but can address the need to detox. These are a few of the numerous options available: orthospinology (a chiropractic specialty), ONDAMED, acupuncture, oxygen chamber therapy, IV therapies, chelation therapies, far infrared sauna, and much more.