Bread. It’s one of those foods that you always like to have at your house, yet it gets moldy so quickly. When you see a loaf start to go bad you just rip off the green stuff and use the rest. All is good, right? Wrong.

Unfortunately, that one little circle of moldy bread does ruin the whole loaf. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture recommends that you toss bread at the first sign of mold.

It seems excessive, but it’s true. Studies have shown that mold has long, threadlike roots that can penetrate deep into the entirety of nearly any food it grows on.

And mold is nothing to take lightly. The microscopic fungi can cause a wide range of health problems including allergic reactions, breathing problems, stomach problems, and some molds — those that produce the substances known as aflatoxins — can even cause liver cancer.

If you’re going to insist on eating moldy bread, be sure to cut away a huge section around the green spots so you get all of the roots, however, you should know this is still very risky.

“We don’t recommend cutting mold off of bread because it’s a soft food,” says Marianne Gravely, a senior technical information specialist for the U.S.D.A.

There are a few food exceptions to the mold rule. Harder foods are tougher for fungus to invade so. Hard salamis or vegetables like carrots can be safely scraped of mold. Also, some cheeses can just be scraped clean without any health problems. In fact, Brie actually relies on mold to produce the cheese, so it is, of course, safe to eat.

If you come across a moldy food, bread or otherwise, trust your eyes. If you go further and give it the ‘sniff test’ you run a dangerous risk of developing respiratory problems.

Of course, not letting food go past its prime in the first place is the best option. Do a weekly or bi-weekly inventory of what you have in the house, and let that determine what you make for your next few meals.

Also see, This is why bread comes in brown paper bags.

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Meghan is a full-time writer exploring the fun facts behind food. She lives a healthy lifestyle but lives for breakfast, dessert and anything with marinara. She’s thrown away just as many meals as she’s proud of.