I accidentally ate mold..now what?
January 2, 2012 1:06 PM   Subscribe

Is there something I can take to prevent poisoning, or should I just let my body do its thing?

Full story:
This morning I got some coffee and a spinach 'n cheese pastry to-go from a cafe. When I took a bite of the pastry it didn't taste so good, so I opened it up to investigate. It was covered in mold.. the fuzzy gray kind with bits of black spots. Besides calling the cafe and complaining (must have happened because its a holiday weekend and they didn't get fresh deliveries?) is there something I should do to prevent illness? Luckily I only ingested a small bite, but since I had a terrible bout of food poisoning a few months ago, I'm really paranoid.
posted by hellameangirl to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FWIW I have eaten moldy things and not been poisoned. I think of it as free penicillin. If you are not having a bad reaction now, why worry? You can always call poison control if you want more information.

I've also had the panic from cleaning out the fridge and breathing in mold spores but it never made me sick. Just keep track of how you feel. Do you in any way feel like you did before? If not, make yourself a nice cup of herbal tea and chalk it up to experience.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:14 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

If I were in your shoes, I would go to a Health/Natural Foods store and buy some Activated Charcoal (pills, probably refrigerated) and take a couple as soon as possible.
posted by iurodivii at 1:14 PM on January 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Both times I've had food poisoning, it started pretty soon after eating (like, within 90 minutes). So I'd say that if you haven't started getting violently ill by now, you're probably okay.

But the activated charcoal tablets may still be a good idea, if only for your own peace of mind.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:17 PM on January 2, 2012

one bite of mold is not going to poison you. If you don't already have symptoms, you most like won't.
posted by cosmicbandito at 1:24 PM on January 2, 2012

Depending on the food poisoning it's either an immediate reaction or 2-6 hours (sometimes even longer). If you're fine at this point then you're going to be okay in all likelihood.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:33 PM on January 2, 2012

Don't go taking activated charcoal for this. You had a bite of some mold. You're most likely fine. AC will likely give make you feel worse -- diarrhea, vomiting, or constipation are common side effects.
posted by ellF at 1:42 PM on January 2, 2012

Food being visibly moldy and tasting bad is one thing, food that can give you food poisoning is another. If you're not sick now, you're probably not going to be sick at all. I'd get activated charcoal just for peace of mind and to keep around the house, but really, this isn't that big of a deal.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:43 PM on January 2, 2012

Response by poster: Its been 3 hours and no symptoms, so I guess I'm ok.
Thanks funny Marie Mon Dieu, that you mention penicillin, because I was told many years ago that I was allergic (after getting a rash on my hands a few days after taking amoxcilan for bronchitis). Which brings a whole other question to mind: if I in fact am allergic to penicillin, does that mean I'm allergic to mold? I always thought the penicillin allergy thing was a misdiagnoses, because I think the rash was actually caused by sleeping on someone's carpet (it was college :p)
posted by hellameangirl at 1:46 PM on January 2, 2012

Penicillin is a very specific mould. There are many, many moulds and it's perfectly possible that there was none on the food you ate.
posted by fearnothing at 2:00 PM on January 2, 2012

Your assumption that eating a bit of this mould will cause "poisoning" is off base. You are surrounded by mould. You ingest boatloads of it over your lifetime. Your body is generally well able to fight off exposure.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:24 PM on January 2, 2012

Yeah-- chances are that you didn't take a big old bite of PCN. That said, the reaction you reported (hand rash) sounds more like a garden-variety adverse reaction to penicillin than a bona fide allergy (which would manifest as a more severe, burning rash, anaphylaxis, or interstitial nephritis). It may be worth discussing with your physician at some point, as it could open up a wide world of cheaper, safer antibiotics for you to use if you turn out to not be truly allergic.
posted by The White Hat at 2:29 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't worry about it. See this from a similar previous question.
posted by Dr. ShadowMask at 3:08 PM on January 2, 2012

Another vote for it being gross, but not dangerous. IMO, keeping activated charcoal capsules at home is a great idea. They're the one thing that works to shorten food poisoning for me. Buy it at health food-type stores (Whole Foods, too) and I'd strongly recommend capsules as trying to mix the powder in liquid is very difficult. I've never seen it in the refrigerated section as it's shelf stable. If I suspect I have food poisoning, I take ~8-10 capsules every few hours. The only thing to be cautious about is taking them with medications as they can absorb those as well.
posted by quince at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2012

I'm allergic to penicillin and sometimes feel a little off with some blue cheeses. For me, if I take amoxicillan, I get a full body, itchy rash. However, it's not "all molds" necessarily. Glad you're feeling okay!
posted by amanda at 4:10 PM on January 2, 2012

My mom always said I was allergic to penicillin. I had no memory of this, only a bit of eye puffiness if I took aspirin every four hours as directed. One day, I went to the dentist and he prescribed me some penicillin and lo and behold, no reaction. Except that it worked like gangbusters to get rid of whatever infection he prescribed it for.

I have a pretty high tolerance to mold and mildew (or else I couldn't go down into musty basements and clean moldy bathrooms, oy!). I have had allergy tests and frankly, I am not allergic to anything. I sneeze a lot at dust and in the winter-time but I drink lots of water and take lots of vitamins, especially Vitamin D.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:43 PM on January 2, 2012

Here is an article from Slate that draws a distinction between spoilage bacteria and pathogenic bacteria. Not that I recommend eating (or serving!) putrid gumbo.
posted by palliser at 4:51 PM on January 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

hellameangirl, in case you're curious, more info on the non-allergic amoxicillin rash reaction that The White Hat mentioned, which is pretty commonplace. IANAAllergist, but my allergist tells me that misdiagnoses of penicillin allergy are really common. You'd need a skin test to verify, though a doctor may not consider it worth the risk to do so unless they have a particular reason.

Anyway, it's likely that your pastry was fuzzy with a species of penicillium, aspergillus or rhizopus. These molds are also used in food production, which may or may not be comforting at this particular moment, since a moldy pastry is pretty freaking gross. But the health risk of these molds is typically more through inhalation, not ingestion. (Anecdotally, some people who are allergic to penicillin as a medication can eat Roquefort and other blue cheeses containing penicillium, though between misdiagnosis of penicillin allergy and people wisely erring on the side of caution, it's hard to tell how common this is.)
posted by desuetude at 5:22 PM on January 2, 2012

Looking at Pallisers link, it's also worth adding that mold isn't a bacteria - it's a eukaryote just like you! (But it's a gross and unappatizine eukaryote.)
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:06 PM on January 2, 2012

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