We’ve said in the past that the only dumb question is the one you don’t ask. There is no shame in not knowing everything, only in pretending you do. That’s why we’re happy to answer your questions on a subject we love to learn more about… food! Today, we have three questions on a subject that is important for any eater or cook to know — food safety.
Can You Cut Mold Off Food?
We’ve stated in the past that you might be able to eat food that has spoiled without getting sick, since spoilage bacteria are different from pathogenic bacteria, the bacteria that can cause disease. However, spoiled food won’t taste as pleasant, and some molds may cause allergic reactions, respiratory issues, or gastrointestinal discomfort or contain toxins like mycotoxins that can lead to other issues. You’re probably better off throwing the food away, but is it possible to save food by cutting the moldy part off and eating the rest? That fully depends on the food in question.
Something like hard cheese or cured meats like salami should be fine. This is because the firmness (and often the dryness) of the food items can keep the molds contained on the surface. This should allow you to cut around the mold to remove it and make it safe to eat. Just make sure to cut with plenty of space around the mold, about an inch, so that you are removing all the mold and not accidentally contaminating the knife as you cut.
With foods like bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, or apples, you can’t remove the external mold you see and eat the rest.
For softer or moister foods, it’s much easier for mold to spread inside, meaning you can’t remove only the contaminated parts. With foods like bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, or apples, you can’t remove the external mold you see and eat the rest. This is especially true for something like a jam or jelly, as the mold could be producing dangerous mycotoxins.
A good rule of thumb when it comes to mold and food is if the food is firm and doesn’t contain a lot of moisture, it should be okay to remove the mold you see and eat the rest of the food.
Are Raw Eggs Safe to Eat?
If you’ve ever known someone who is trying to bulk up fast, there’s chance you’ve seen them recreate a famous scene from the film Rocky, where they crack a few eggs in a glass and gulp it down. Raw eggs are loaded with nutrients like protein, but eggs also can contain Salmonella, which can make you very sick. End of story, right? No eating raw eggs? Not so fast.
Pasteurized eggs have been heated just enough to kill any pathogens that may be a risk to you.
Many of us have eaten raw or lightly cooked eggs in the past and haven’t gotten sick. This isn’t just poached eggs or eggs with runny yolks. Think about eggnog, mayonnaise, sorbet, and hollandaise or bearnaise sauces. So, what’s the difference? It can depend on the eggs that are being used. Pasteurized eggs have been heated just enough to kill any pathogens that may be a risk to you. While pasteurized eggs may perform worse in some cooking situations, they’re equal or comparable in most.
The other ingredients or amount of cooking you do may also affect the safety of your egg dish. For example, frying an egg so that the yolk is still runny can be enough to remove any Salmonella. Similarly, if you’re adding egg whites to a cocktail or making mayonnaise, the acids or alcohol in the mixture may help to kill the bacteria in the egg. This depends on a number of factors, from how much contact the egg makes with the alcohol to how much bacteria is in the egg to begin with. Ultimately, the safest way to eat raw eggs is to make sure they’re pasteurized.
Do You Have to Refrigerate Ketchup?
There has long been a debate about whether you should store your ketchup in the fridge. The debate is so fierce that one of the largest ketchup producers in the world, Heinz, caused a minor firestorm online by saying that it should be stored in the refrigerator. The logic on the other side leans on the fact that many restaurants don’t refrigerate their communal ketchup bottles or dispensers, and people aren’t getting sick there. Similarly, ketchup is kept on the shelves in stores. The question is, who is correct here? The answer (and reason for the debate) is both.
There is nothing inherently unsafe about storing your ketchup in the cupboard or out of the fridge. The acid from the tomato and vinegar (two main ingredients) keep ketchup preserved and safe to eat normal temperatures. This is only true of store-bought, grade-A ketchup, since homemade or low-quality ketchups may not have the right preservative mix to keep it safe out of the fridge.
Either through oxidation or less stable room temperature, ketchup may change color, texture, or taste over time.
It’s true that you don’t need to immediately refrigerate your ketchup once you bring it home from the store, but it’s still a good idea to refrigerate it once you open it. While unrefrigerated ketchup may not make you sick, its quality can be quickly affected out of the fridge. Either through oxidation or less stable room temperature, ketchup may change color, texture, or taste over time. Ultimately, you may not notice a major difference between fridge ketchup and cupboard ketchup, but if you want your condiment to be top quality for the long haul, store it in the fridge.
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There is no question too basic or obvious that should keep you from asking it. This is especially true for food safety questions like those we explored today. Whether it’s allowing you to safely preserve a block of top-notch Parmigiano Reggiano from mold or win a debate about where to keep your ketchup, we hope these answers help you!