Drank really nasty coconut water... am I ok?
December 16, 2011 8:58 PM   Subscribe

I drank some coconut water that has been left out for a long time. Probably weeks. Should I be worried?

I'm sitting in my char, drinking a coconut water. I put it down next to my chair for a bit, and then pick it up and take a sip. After swallowing most of it, I realized it tasted really bad. Fermented, at least... upon pouring the rest of it out into a cup, I see that there are chunks of mold in it, and the bottom is kind of congealed.

I haven't had any of that particular kind in the house for a couple weeks, so it has to be old.

Really nasty. But do I have to do anything about it?
posted by Sexy Question Bot to Health & Fitness (9 answers total)
Response by poster: As for the question of why I would do that... I sometimes leave cans out, but never with stuff in them. I presumed that this was true of the others in my space, but apparently not!
posted by Sexy Question Bot at 9:00 PM on December 16, 2011

Best answer: I would call Poison Control and ask if you should worry. It's probably okay, but they might tell you what to look out for.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:14 PM on December 16, 2011

Fermentation is your friend. You probably will have a few days of distress, but there's a chance you'll escape serious parasite infection. But I'd call your doc in the morning just in case.
posted by Quisp Lover at 9:15 PM on December 16, 2011

Response by poster: Dunno why I didn't think of poison control. I called, they said it shouldn't be a problem - just recommended washing my mouth out and brushing my teeth. If I feel bad later, I'll post here for the record.
posted by Sexy Question Bot at 9:23 PM on December 16, 2011 [3 favorites]

I probably wouldn't do anything. If it makes you sick, it'll make you sick. Then you'll be OK again. If it doesn't then it wasn't that bad.
posted by rhymer at 12:46 AM on December 17, 2011

How about posting how it turned out for the record even if you survive unscathed?
posted by Ian Scuffling at 1:54 AM on December 17, 2011

At a guess (I am no expert), fermentation wouldn't produce anything especially harmful but stagnation or insect larvae etc (sugary water) might be more problematic. Surprised no one has told you to preserve the rest in case it is needed for tests. Hope it works out OK.
posted by epo at 3:26 AM on December 17, 2011

Best answer: 99.999 percent of American's don't die each year from food poisoning.

I'd be surprised if anything happens other than the placebo effect. Here's why:

1) The majority of molds are harmless from an edibility standpoint. Stuff that grows in your food tends to freak people out and get a bad rap, but the concerns are mostly over exaggerated by victims of soap and disposable product advertisements (i.e. "if every touchable surface isn't sterile, your baby is at risk. Purchase our antibacterial, silver threaded, single use hand towels to protect your family. You owe it to them!")
2) Food illness is rarely caused by mold. The CDC lists the top 5 organisms in the categories of illness, hospitalization or death due to contaminated food (representing about 90 of the cases) and none of them are mold. Plus, if you had mold growing in your cup, there probably wasn't much else going on. Molds, much like people, will alter their environment to suit their own needs and drive out competition for resources. The main competition being other microorganisms, many molds have adapted over the years to secrete various antimicrobial compounds. Things that are 'fungified' are often preserved as a food source- think beer and cheese. (mmm... beer and cheese...)
3) You have ingested that mold plenty of times before. The mold in your cup grew from spores that have gotten into your house, your food, your drinks, your lungs, etc. (lungs, by the way being the more dangerous place to grow something). Your body is used to it, although a high quantity may give you an upset stomach. I can think of several times this year when I took a big swig of some old juice in the fridge and got a few swallows down before I realized that there were solid pieces in my drink (what can I say? I'm a guy who lives alone and drinks directly from the container) and I never had a problem.

That's not to say that there are no poisonous molds- there are dangerous aflatoxins and mycotoxins that are produced by food-inhabiting mold, but those tend to grow on grain products. And mushrooms of course, being slightly different, should be eaten with more precaution.

So the bottom line is, yeah, if you see that your stuff is moldy, just throw it away or remove the moldy part if you don't want to waste food (typically for jelly, bread etc), but I wouldn't worry about it.

By the way, here is an interesting article about food spoilage bacteria.
posted by Dr. ShadowMask at 6:57 AM on December 17, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Still feeling fine. Thanks all.
posted by Sexy Question Bot at 12:40 PM on December 18, 2011

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