Can you eat moldy bread?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat moldy bread?” We will explain what mold is and look at some ingredients that inhibit its growth. We will also briefly discuss how to handle and store bread to deter the growth of mold.

Can you eat moldy bread?

No, you should never attempt to eat moldy bread. Presence of mold on bread is an indication of contamination and even tiny bits of mold can result in food poisoning. Bread is a soft food which makes it relatively easy for molds to penetrate and quickly spread.

What is bread mold?

Mold is a type of fungus that usually grows multicellular structures that are known as hyphae. Fungi feed and survive by relying on the structures that they grow on like bread, they absorb their requisite nutrients from them.

The fuzzy parts that are usually visible on the bread are actually colonies of the spores which are the reproduction means of the fungi. Spores can move through the air spaces of the bread and grow on the other side of it.

Spores usually give the mold its distinct color such as yellow, white, green, gray and this depends on the type of fungus that’s growing.

The common molds that grow on bread are Penicillium, Fusarium, Aspergillus, Mucor and Rhizopus. These types of fungus also have within them very different species.

Which ingredients can Inhibit mold growth?

Bread that is commercially produced usually has added ingredients such as chemical preservatives. The most common ones are sorbic acid and calcium propionate and they help inhibit the growth of molds. Some bakeries as well use lactic acid bacteria (LAB) to preserve bread.

LABs act by  producing acids that naturally inhibit the growth of mold. They  are mostly used as preservatives in sourdough bread. 

You can as well make use of spices such as cinnamon and cloves. Vinegar can also help deter the growth of mold. The downside with using spices is that they tend to interfere with the flavor and aroma of bread.

How should I handle and store bread to deter mold growth?

Most types of common mold spores cannot withstand the baking temperatures which means that bread usually gets mold from the air after the baking process and this can be during slicing and packaging.

Under the right conditions, the spores grow and multiply and such conditions are provision of sufficient warmth and humid conditions such as in a kitchen.

In order to prevent the growth of mold in bread, you can do the below:

Cover the bread

Always ensure that you keep bread covered as this serves to protect it from any spores which might be present in the air. To also avoid soggy bread as well as mold ensure that you do not package fresh bread until you’ve thoroughly cooled it.

Keep the bread dry

If you happen to see any indication of moisture inside a bread package, ensure that you use a clean material such as paper towel or cloth to dry the package before sealing it. This is because moisture promotes the growth of mold.

Freeze it

You can freeze bread to enable it to stay fresher for longer and inhibit the growth of mold. The downside with this method is that frozen bread usually dries up.

When freezing bread make sure that you place slices of wax paper between so that it is easier to thaw the bread when you need to.

Breads that are gluten free are usually more vulnerable to mold growth because of the high moisture content and limited use of chemical preservatives. It is for these reasons that such breads are sold frozen.

Other types of bread are usually protected from moisture and oxygen using special packaging and technology. For instance, vacuum sealing of bread is done to get rid of oxygen which is required by mold to grow. However once opened this bread can still be contaminated.

You should never smell moldy bread as you can inhale the spores from the fungus. If you are allergic to mold it can lead to breathing difficulties and also trigger asthma.

People with allergies to mold can also experience harmful reactions such as anaphylaxis. People who have weak immune systems are also very vulnerable to getting infections from inhaling Rhizopus which has grown on bread.

You can learn about various types of bread mold here.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Can you eat moldy bread?” We have explained what mold is and looked at some ingredients that inhibit its growth. We have also briefly discussed how to handle and store bread to deter the growth of mold.


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