You purchased a pint of strawberries, but they got pushed the back of your fridge, hidden behind a gallon of skim milk, and by the time you unearthed them from the shelf, the bright red berries are spotted with white and blue. Your fruit isn't trying to be patriotic. It's molded—and it is not safe to eat, even if you cut around the spots.
This seems like a simple enough concept, but too many people eat molded foods for fear of wasting the money they spent on groceries. And, unfortunately, they can sometimes suffer severe consequences for doing so. "Most molds do not produce toxins that are harmful to humans," says Michael Doyle, Ph.D., regents professor of food microbiology at the University of Georgia, "but those toxins that are produced can have serious consequences, ranging from vomiting to gangrene to liver cancer."
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Here's the thing: When it comes to mold, mycotoxins—poisonous substances that are produced by mold—are the real enemy. They're heat stable, which means they can't be cooked out of your food. (And they often dive deeper than the white, blue, or black spores you see on the surface of your fruits, vegetables, dairy, and meat.)