Moldy Cheese: Can Cutting the Edges Make it Safe to Eat?

Is it safe to eat moldy cheese

Cheese is a beloved culinary treat enjoyed by many around the world. However, encountering mold on cheese can make us question its safety for consumption. While some molds are harmless and even desirable in certain types of cheese, others can pose health risks. In this article, we will explore the topic of eating moldy cheese and whether it is safe to do so if you cut off the edges. As a food expert, I will provide insights based on information from reputable sources such as the Mayo Clinic and EatingWell.

Understanding Mold on Cheese

Before we look at the safety of eating moldy cheese, it’s important to distinguish between good mold and bad mold. Many cheeses, especially those with soft rinds or blue veins, are intentionally inoculated with mold during the cheesemaking process. These molds contribute to the unique flavors and textures of these cheeses. However, the molds we commonly encounter on cheese at home are usually unintentional and can vary in their impact on safety and flavor.

Safety Precautions

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain molds produce mycotoxins, which are toxic substances that can cause illness if ingested. Therefore, it is important to use caution when eating moldy cheese. While cutting off the visible moldy parts may seem like a solution, it is not always enough to ensure safety. The Mayo Clinic recommends throwing away soft cheeses such as ricotta or chèvre if they show signs of mold. These cheeses have a high moisture content, making it difficult to completely remove the mold.

Harder cheeses, such as aged cheddar or parmesan, have lower moisture levels and a denser texture, making them less susceptible to mold growth. For these cheeses, it is generally considered safe to trim at least one inch around and below the moldy area. This practice helps eliminate potential contamination while preserving the unaffected portions.

Quality and Flavor Considerations

In addition to safety concerns, the presence of mold can significantly affect the flavor and quality of cheese. Even if the moldy portions are removed, the flavor may be altered due to the release of metabolites by the mold. Therefore, it is important to assess the extent of mold growth and use personal judgment when deciding whether to consume the cheese.

Prevention Tips

To prevent cheese from getting moldy in the first place, proper storage is crucial. The Mayo Clinic recommends wrapping cheese in special cheese paper or parchment paper. Labeling the cheese with the date of purchase will help monitor its freshness. Storing cheese in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer provides a consistent temperature and humidity level. If available, a dedicated wine refrigerator can also serve as an ideal storage option for cheese.

Signs of Cheese Spoilage: How to Determine if Cheese is No Longer Safe to Eat

When determining if a cheese is no longer safe to eat, it’s important to look for certain signs that indicate spoilage or the presence of harmful bacteria. Here are some common signs to look for:

  1. Visible mold growth: While some molds on cheese may be safe to eat, others may produce toxins that can cause illness. If you notice extensive mold growth on the surface of the cheese, especially if it appears fuzzy, green, blue, or black, it is generally a sign that the cheese should be discarded.
  2. Off-putting odor: If the cheese emits an unpleasant or sour odor that is significantly different from its usual odor, it may be spoiled. A strong ammonia-like odor or a rancid odor may indicate that the cheese has gone bad.
  3. Unusual texture or consistency: Cheese that has become excessively dry, slimy, or sticky is likely past its prime. Changes in texture, such as a crumbly or lumpy texture in soft cheeses or a rubbery texture in hard cheeses, can also be indicators of spoilage.
  4. Discoloration: Any abnormal discoloration in the cheese, such as dark spots, yellow or brown patches, or a general darkening, may indicate spoilage. Fresh cheese that turns pink or orange may be contaminated with bacteria.
  5. Bitter or sour taste: If the cheese tastes significantly different from its usual flavor profile and has a bitter, sour, or unpleasant taste, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid consumption.

It’s important to note that these signs can vary depending on the type of cheese and its aging process. Some cheeses naturally develop a rind or surface mold that is meant to be eaten, while others should remain pristine and mold-free. When in doubt, it’s always safer to throw the cheese away rather than risk potential foodborne illness.

Safe Cheese Storage: Maintaining Quality and Flavor

Proper storage of cheese is critical to maintaining its quality, flavor, and safety. Here are some general safety guidelines for storing cheese:

  1. Temperature: Cheese should be stored at a consistent temperature to prevent spoilage. The ideal temperature range for most cheeses is between 35°F and 45°F (1°C and 7°C). Avoid storing cheese in the warmest part of the refrigerator, such as the door, as temperature fluctuations can accelerate spoilage.
  2. Packaging: To keep cheese fresh and prevent it from drying out, it’s important to store it properly. Most cheeses are best stored in their original packaging, which is designed to allow the cheese to breathe while protecting it from excessive moisture and odors. If the original packaging is not suitable, wrap the cheese tightly in wax or parchment paper, followed by a layer of plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
  3. Cheese paper: Consider using special cheese paper, if available. Cheese paper is designed to regulate moisture levels around the cheese while allowing it to breathe. It helps prevent the cheese from drying out or becoming too moist, which can affect its texture and flavor.
  4. Cheese storage containers: Alternatively, you can use cheese storage containers or airtight plastic containers with lids. These containers provide a controlled environment for the cheese, protecting it from moisture and odors. However, make sure the container is clean and dry before placing cheese in it.
  5. Segregation: To avoid cross-contamination and flavor transfer, store different types of cheese separately. Strong-smelling cheeses, such as blue cheese, should be stored in a separate container or wrapped tightly to prevent their aroma from affecting other cheeses.
  6. Labeling: It’s helpful to label cheese with the date of purchase or storage. This allows you to track its freshness and consumption timeline. Use a marker or label to indicate the type of cheese or any special instructions for storage or consumption.
  7. Cheese drawer or crisper: Many refrigerators have a designated cheese drawer or crisper. This area often has a slightly higher humidity level and a more stable temperature, making it an ideal place to store cheese. If your refrigerator doesn’t have a dedicated cheese drawer, choose a cool, low-moisture area for storage.
  8. Shelf life: Different types of cheese have different shelf lives. Fresh cheeses, such as mozzarella or feta, should be consumed within a few days to a week, while aged or hard cheeses can last for several weeks or even months. Check the package of each cheese or consult a cheese expert for recommended storage times.

By following these cheese storage safety guidelines, you can help maintain the quality, flavor, and safety of your cheese for an extended period of time, allowing you to enjoy your cheese to the fullest.

The Bottom line

When it comes to moldy cheese, it is important to prioritize safety while maintaining taste and quality. While some cheeses can be saved by trimming the moldy edges, others should be discarded. It is important to evaluate the type of cheese, the extent of mold growth, and personal judgment before consuming moldy cheese. By understanding the risks and taking the proper precautions, you can continue to enjoy the wonderful world of cheese with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice. Always consult with a qualified professional or healthcare provider regarding your specific situation and concerns.


Is it safe to eat moldy cheese if you slice off the edges?

Slicing off the edges of moldy cheese may remove visible mold, but it does not guarantee safety. Some molds can produce harmful toxins that can penetrate deeper into the cheese. It’s best to exercise caution and throw away moldy cheese to avoid potential health risks.

Is it safe to eat cheese if I notice mold on it?

It depends on the type of cheese and the extent of the mold growth. While some molds are safe to eat, others can produce toxins that are harmful. In general, it is best to use caution and discard soft cheeses with mold. For harder cheeses, cutting off at least an inch around and under the moldy area can be considered safe in most cases.

Is it enough to just cut off the moldy edges of cheese before eating it?

Slicing off the moldy edges can help eliminate visible mold, but it may not be completely safe. Some molds can penetrate deeper into the cheese, and toxins may have spread beyond the visible moldy areas. It is important to consider the type of cheese and use judgment to ensure safety.

Are there certain cheeses that are safer to eat if they have mold?

Certain cheeses, such as those with natural rinds or blue veins, are intentionally inoculated with mold during the aging process and are considered safe to eat. Examples include blue cheese, Brie, or Camembert. However, it is still important to assess the extent of mold growth and use personal judgment.

What are the risks of eating moldy cheese?

Some molds can produce mycotoxins, which are toxic substances that can cause illness if ingested. Symptoms can range from mild gastrointestinal upset to more severe reactions. It is important to prioritize safety and consider the potential risks when deciding whether to consume moldy cheese.

How can I prevent cheese from getting moldy in the first place?

Proper storage is the key to preventing cheese from becoming moldy. Keep cheese refrigerated at a constant temperature, ideally between 35°F and 45°F (1°C and 7°C). Store cheese in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in cheese paper, wax paper, or parchment paper. Avoid storing cheese in overly humid or warm areas of the refrigerator.

Can moldy cheese be used in cooking or should it always be thrown away?

In some cases, moldy cheese can be used in cooking if the moldy parts are trimmed off. However, it is important to consider the type of mold, the type of cheese, and the specific recipe. Some molds can still affect the flavor or quality of the dish. When in doubt, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard moldy cheese.