29 November 2012

Diner’s dilemma – Is this safe to eat?

If you find moldy food in your refrigerator, is it bad to just eat it?

I admit that I’m a freak about wasting food. (Click here for a previous post on that topic.) Nearly a whole shelf of our refrigerator is cluttered with containers of leftovers. Sometimes they contain just a few bites, and usually it gets eaten within a couple of days. Occasionally we wait too long. Last night, we found a container with about a half cup of leftover corn. When we checked, the corn had started to take on a rosy hue, and it smelled awful. So down the garbage disposal it went.

This morning for breakfast, I took out some leftover scrambled eggs from Sunday brunch. I had a single flour tortilla in the freezer, and I decided to make a breakfast burrito. I grated a little cheese into the egg. Then I reached for a jar of fresh salsa that we had opened last summer. When I opened the jar, there were three neat circles of mold growing on the surface of the salsa.

The first thing I did was use a spoon to dip out the mold, being careful not to actually stir some of the mold into the salsa. Then I took a sniff. Didn’t smell bad. I wavered, then decided “What the heck.” I scooped three tablespoons of salsa onto the eggs, then dumped the rest into the garbage disposal.

That was four hours ago, and I’m still ok. But it made me wonder – how bad does it have to be before it’s actually bad for you?

(The burrito, by the way, was pretty good. I heated the egg/cheese/salsa combo in the microwave, then wrapped it in the tortilla. Maybe the microwave zapped any nasty mold spores that might have caused me trouble. Or maybe it will hit me later.)

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