You came home feeling hungry and you are craving for a good piece of blue cheese you. You remember a couple of weeks ago you bought a good chunk from the market and you pray to God, or whatever bigger force you believe in, that it’s still fresh in the fridge. You pulled it out from the fridge and there it is, the sight of a fuzzy green with white dust sitting on top of your cheese.
At this point you would either throw it to the trash and call pizza delivery, or choose to believe in the natural strength of your immune system and eat it anyway.
What Are Molds?
One of the most common ways to tell whether our food has certainly gone past its expiry date and is not safe to ingest any further is by spotting a mold on its surface. The rancid appearance and the putrid smell enhances the belief that eating it will make us regret our decision. But the molds found originally in the blue cheese seem to not agree with this.
Molds, or fungi in scientific term, are microscopic creatures that exist in many forms and therefore have many names. During ripening, the acidity and the moisture of certain food, including cheese, make as a good soil for mold to grow and reproduce. Here, we are going to talk about is there any benefits of Blue Cheese Mold for health?
Here are more types of cheese with health benefits you can easily mix to your food:
- Best Health Benefits of Pepper Jack Cheese
- Health Benefits of Red Leicester Cheese
- Health Benefits of American Cheese
- Health Benefits of Cottage Cheese and Flaxseed Oil
Benefit of Molds in Blue Cheese
You might be wondering about the benefits of Blue Cheese Mold for health. The molds that are specially found in blue cheese are called Penicillium roqueforti and Penicillium glaucum. Other blue-veined cheeses that contain these molds are Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, and Camembert cheese.
Due to the chemical nature in blue cheese, in terms of salinity, acidity, moisture, density, temperature, and oxygen flow, the molds do not generally produce toxins and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) Food Safety and Inspection Service has verified that the food molds in blue-veined cheese are safe to eat.
In fact, these fungi are cousins to the legendary penicillin antibiotics that are used to kill bacteria in infectious diseases such as syphillis and gonorrhea.
But before you are thinking of recommending blue cheese to someone who is sick (as silly as it sounds), it is best to understand that the penicillium fungi in blue cheese possess mild antibacterial effects, but not to the extent of curing diseases.
The Safety of Blue Cheese Molds
According to the information from the USDA, molds found on hard cheese can still be eaten. However, if there is a new mold that did not exist when the cheese was purchased (meaning that the mold is not part of the manufacturing), the USDA recommends to cut at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot, bearing in mind to keep the knife out of the mold part when cutting to avoid cross-contamination to other parts of the cheese.
The Science and Artistic Bit of the Molds in the Blue Cheese
Interestingly, the presence of these molds is the ultimate reason behind the unique delicacy of blue cheese. The creamy and velvety consistency of the cheese is a result of proteolysis (break down of proteins) that naturally occurs more rapidly with the molds around.
Other than that, the molds also speed up the process of lypolysis (breakdown of fats) in the cheese, and the end products of this process gives the unique aroma. In some parts of the world, such as in north of England and central region of France, where people indulge in the art of cheesemaking, they experiment on growing these penicillium fungi on cheese and attempt these entire chemical processes to produce variable cheese flavors.
The legend of the blue cheese comes from the story of a French sheperd who left his cheese in a cave, and later when he returned found that a mold had appeared on the cheese, and according to him it gave an exquisite taste. Or perhaps he was just really hungry. But look at it this way, the tradition of eating blue cheese has continued for centuries and there are no reports of death due to consumption of blue cheese molds (again, that might sound a bit silly).
To wrap it up, manufactured molds in blue cheese seem to be part of the cuisine delicacy and generally do not pose serious health risks. However, new molds that appear after storage of cheese in the fridge are probably safer to be cut and thrown away. Or if you think molds are still dangerous and you find yourself too lazy to cut the mold spot, you are just probably finding reasons to opt for pizza instead.
The Health Risks of Eating Molds
We are familiar with the notion that illness will happen if we eat food contaminated with molds. Science backs this up by revealing that ingestion of molds that produce toxins, called mycotoxins, may cause life-threatening allergic reactions or respiratory problems. These problems may arise instantly, the first time we consume them.
Other molds produce different toxins, namely aflatoxins, which may cause cancer if eaten frequently and in significantly large amount. However, this requires years of consumption for cancer to develop and cause serious health problems.
Either way, it still sounds pretty scary, hence it is probably logical for people to question the safety of eating cheese covered with mold. A lot of these mentioned toxins are found in food crops such as dried fruits and nuts. People who have compromised immune systems, such as people affected by AIDS, malnutrition, cancer, post-surgical conditions, are more prone to developing fungal infections when eating food tarnished with mold.