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Is it OK to cut the mould off cheese?

Is it OK to cut the mould off cheese?

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Mould on cheese can be tricky — some, like blue cheeses and the rind on Camembert, are obviously meant to be mouldy.

But when it comes to small mould patches on normally-not-mouldy hard varieties, you need to be able to cut away at least a 1 cm chunk under and around the mould because it may have penetrated farther in than you can see — don’t just slice it off the edge.

Always throw any food away that’s very mouldy. Cutting or scooping the mould off soft cheeses is very risky — its invisible threads can go well below the surface. It’s safest to chuck them, as the moulds can produce toxins that can damage your liver, kidneys and immune system.

Soft cheeses, such as cottage cheese, cream cheese and ricotta cheese, with mould should be discarded. The same goes for any kind of cheese that’s shredded, crumbled or sliced.

With these cheeses, the mould can send threads throughout the cheese. In addition, harmful bacteria, such as Listeria, Salmonella and E. coli, can grow along with the mould.

Mould generally can’t penetrate far into hard and semi-soft cheeses, such as cheddar, Colby, Parmesan and Swiss. So you can cut away the mouldy part and eat the rest of the cheese. Cut off at least 2½ cm around and below the mouldy spot. Be sure to keep the knife out of the mould, so it doesn’t contaminate other parts of the cheese.

Of course, not all moulds pose a risk. In fact, some types of mould are used to make cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert. These moulds are safe to eat.

If you’re not sure what type of cheese you have or what to do if it grows mould, the safe course is to discard it.

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