A moldy tomato

Moldy tomato

What you see: A moldy tomato

What it is: A moldy tomato

Eat or toss: Toss!

The story:

A tomato overtaken with mold is no longer good to eat. It won’t taste good and might not make you feel good either.

Even as it sits on our counters or in our fridges, fresh produce is alive, breathing and conducting the business of being a plant. And that includes aging, which causes cells to break down and weaken. An irreparable injury will also damage cells and speed up the aging process. When opportunistic bacteria and fungi discover that the gates have been weakened, they move in to finish the job. Those microorganisms basking in tomato mush are probably just focused on the hard work of plant decay, but it’s possible that a human pathogen could be among them, or that some could produce toxins that sicken people.

A tomato like this could also be bad news for allergy sufferers. Certain molds, including some that grow on food, dispatch allergy and asthma-aggravating spores into the air. Sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and other allergy symptoms could be the result of airborne mold spores. When I throw away very moldy food, I usually position something over it in the compost bin to help prevent any more spores from whirling around my kitchen

What if it’s just a little mold? You still want to dump (compost!) the tomato. Per U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, if a soft food gets moldy, you should pitch the whole thing because the mold could have penetrated further than is visible. On hard, low-moisture fruits and vegetables, it’s OK to just trim off the mold, but use good judgment. A hard fruit with as much mold as this tomato isn’t worth salvaging.


Molds on food: Are they Dangerous? United States Department of Agriculture.

Mold Allergy Overview. American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

Mold Allergy: What is a mold allergy? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America

I keep trying to break the mold...

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