So the question that I am often asked when running community based food safety training is “ if I cut the mould off the cheese can what’s left still be eaten”?
The answer is simple – NO.
The reason is that like trees, mould have “roots” which go down into the food. These filaments cannot be easily seen by the human eye so when you cut the visible mould off, there are still these mould filaments inside the cheese (or whatever food).
So we end up throwing food away and we don’t like doing this. So the myth that it is Ok just to cut the mould off is created so we don’t throw food away.
Well the good news is that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel.
Moulds are present all around us and like to grow on foods which are lower in moisture and in cool places. Products like hard cheeses, breads, fruits and spreads are perfect for them.
A method which is commonly used in medicine and by Dentists has been trialled on foods and it has been found to stop mould growth.
Plasma and electrical currents are the key.
A plasma flame is created with an electrical charge and this is applied to the food.
“That plasma coats the surface of the food, and what you do when you treat that surface is kill the mould spores on the surface so they can’t infect the fruit. It seems to be stimulating the resistance response in the fruit as well so it’s actually defending itself against infection — it’s really clever and completely chemically free,” Dr Kirsty Bayliss, from Murdoch University, said
The plasma flame was also found to kill food poisoning bacteria.
It is simple and effective but will not stop other mould or bacteria getting onto the food, so if it is to become commercial, it will need to be used with packaging or other methods to prevent post treatment contamination.