Eat the Mold or Discard the Mold?

I bet you have heard mixed information when it comes to that moldy cheese or green loaf of bread.  So the real question is, what is SAFE to eat?

I found a chart from the USDA that was of course ridiculously long, so I’ll break this down for you and clear up some of this confusion, while having this double as a good cheat sheet, so we can avoid being stuck in the bathroom for 3 days.

This is also a great guide for all those QA managers out there trying to save their product.

Food With Mold:

Luncheon Meats, Bacon, or Hotdogs– Throw them out. Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Moldy foods may also have bacteria growing along with the mold.

Hard Salami and Dry-cured Country Hams– Use. Scrub mold off the surface. It is normal for these shelf-stable products to have surface mold.

Hard Cheese– Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (Keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap.

Cheese made with Mold (Roquefort, Blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert) – Discard if they contain molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process.

Soft Cheese (cottage, Cream cheese, Neufchatel, Chevre, Bel Paese) – Discard. Don’t even mess around with any soft cheese with mold.

Fruits and Vegetables, FIRM (such as cabbage, bell peppers, carrots, etc.) -Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the produce).

Fruits and Vegetables, SOFT (such as cucumbers, peaches, tomatoes, etc.)- Throw it out.

Bread/ Baked Goods– Yeah, get rid of it.

Peanut Butter, Legumes and Nuts– Pitch it.

There is even more of a detailed list on the USDA website.  Check it out if you want to get specific, but at least this give you a good idea of what to look out for.

Call us, were always here to help.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communication

ASI Food Safety

800-477-0778 (24/7) (Instant Chat)

Does Hand Sanitizer Even Work?

So there have been questions to whether a company can substitute hand sanitizer for hand washing procedures. The short answer is- NO.

So let’s get into this a bit. According to the New York Times “no one has studied whether hand sanitizers have cut down on the number of infectious diseases among the public at large.” Does this mean to get rid of sanitizers all together? I’m not sure I would go that far.

A 2008 study in The American Journal of Public Health concluded that improvements in hand hygiene, regardless of how the participants cleaned their hands, cut gastrointestinal diseases by 31 percent, and respiratory infections by 21 percent. Notice that it says “cut”, not eliminated.

In food facilities, the classic use of soap and water for at least 20 seconds has been proven to putting a stop to sharing diseases that can make people sick or worse kill someone. Adding hand sanitizer to the process of it all can add to the reduction of contamination by getting areas that could have been missed in the washing process.

Even stepping out the the bathroom, you risk getting your hands infected by grabbing the handle on the way out. The use of a sanitizer after that step, may kill off any small bit of germs that you picked up.

Liz Scott, chairwoman of the department of public health at Simmons College in Boston says “We really need to target our hygiene practices”. This means when in doubt, in your food facility, wash your hands. It’s always a smart idea to avoid handshakes whenever possible during flu season, but just in case you can’t, grab for the hand sanitizer.

Now, go wash your hands.

Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety


Allergen Got Your Tongue? – 8 Deadly Foods

The last thing a company wants to be responsible for, is a customer hospitalization or death.  Unfortunately, your facility may have the tastiest, safest muffins in the United States, but if someone with an allergy to eggs eats it, and it’s not labeled to contain eggs, well the facility may be in a whirlwind of trouble.

There are more than 160 foods that are identified to cause allergic reactions.  In the United States, by law, there are 8 that are known to cause over 90% of the population’s issues with allergic reactions and the food sources from which many other ingredients are derived.

The eight foods identified by U.S. law are:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish (e.g., bass, flounder, cod)
  • Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat
  • Soybeans

These eight foods, and any ingredient that contains protein derived from one or more of them, are designated as “major food allergens” by FALCPA.

Label your food correctly.  Stay out of trouble.


Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety



What’s up with Food Fraud?

I try every week to look for topics that seem like they could blur the food safety line.  This topic really tops the charts when it comes to trying to throw people for a loop.

When thinking of food fraud, I was under the impression that it was just companies marketing their products as something they are not.  When reading further into it, I found out that food fraud is technically “a collective term used to encompass the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering, or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients, or food packaging; or false or misleading statements made about a product, for economic gain.” – Yikes.

We are all aware of the typical sticks and wood used as fillers for ground coffee, who knows what in crushed black pepper and what we think is honey.  It’s scary to think that there is so much more to consider when it comes to food fraud.

So basically creating false documentation and claiming that you are certified to a standard, would be food fraud.  Another example would be a juice company adding clouding agents to make them look “fresh squeezed.” Yeah, no thanks.

Another example would be if a disgruntled employee were to adulterate the food by adding something such as nuts to a nut free production line. People do this to get the company in trouble however, this is considered food fraud and must be controlled by implementing a food defense plan.

So we all know to be weary of ground coffee, crushed black pepper and honey, along with its whereabouts, but remember that food fraud is much more complicated than that.  That’s why there are companies out there like ours to try and avoid these situations.

Enjoy your next meal!


Shannon Nute, MBA

Director of Communications

ASI Food Safety