A food safety specialist has revealed what foods we can eat even if they are mouldy and which ones to avoid.

Dr Richard Fuchs, from the University of Greenwich, has said that some foods are edible even if they are mouldy, despite the Food Standards Agency (FSA) advising people to avoid eating rotting foods.

According to the FSA, eating mould can make people sick, especially those in vulnerable groups, such as anyone with a weakened immune system, pregnant women, children and adults over 65.

Apples, nuts and grains with mould on them can be really harmful to those who eat them, Dr Fuchs has advised.

He stated: “Consumers may be allergic to the moulds or develop respiratory conditions if exposed. Secondly, moulds can produce toxic compounds called mycotoxins.”

Described as “extremely dangerous”, mycotoxins are toxic compounds that are naturally produced by certain types of moulds (fungi).

Previous research studies have found an association between mycotoxins and an increased risk of cancer.

Dr Fuchs evaluated: “They will rarely have acute effects but they can over a long period of exposure.”

Severe health complications are mainly caused by aflatoxin – the most harmful type of mycotoxin.

Aflatoxin is produced by two types of mould – Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. It can be found on mouldy cocoa beans, rice, nuts, spices and vegetable oils.

Another mycotoxin – patulin – can grow on rotten apples. The World Health Organization said: “If eaten it can cause nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances and vomiting.”

Dr Fuchs said: “Moulds produce microscopic thread like structures called hyphae which can spread into the food.”

He added: “Therefore, what is visible on the surface may not be the full extent of the contamination by the mould.”

It is easier for mould to penetrate the surface of softer foods, including juicy berries, jam, bread and soft cheese, experts have suggested.

Dr Fuchs has revealed that mouldy hard cheese is safe to eat. He said: “Hard, dense foods like hard cheeses or firm fruits and vegetables are more resistant to penetration by the mould so the mould could be cut out and the food consumed.”

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