Food pests

Houseguests who nobody wants
The favoured haunts of food pests
are cereal products. more...

No one much likes them. But often, mould and bacteria in food are not only unsightly (and unpleasant to smell), in certain circumstances they can also be detrimental to health.

The following facts about mould & co. should shed some light on this topic. It is useful to know that food is spoiled by micro-organisms, which include bacteria, mould fungi and yeasts. They multiply and trigger unwanted changes in food, causing it to become mouldy, to decay, to ferment or to become rancid.

Proper storage can prevent food becoming spoiled, which is important because such changes are usually dangerous. Bacteria which produce botulinum toxins cause serious food poisoning, the symptoms of which can be felt 8 to 12 hours after consumption. Common signs are headaches, nausea and perception disorders, such as double vision. In more severe cases it can lead to signs of paralysis and in the worst case scenario food poisoning can be fatal. The most commonly affected foods are protein-rich tinned goods such as peas or beans. Toxic tins can be identified by their misshapen, "swollen" areas. There is no way of removing the toxins, it will not help to heat the contents up. Unfortunately there is no alternative but to throw the affected tin away immediately.


Unwanted mould is dangerous, since certain types of mould fungus produce carcinogenic toxins called aflatoxins, which cannot be killed by heating.

Aflatoxins can not only lead to the development of cancer, they also damage the nervous system and the liver and can, under certain circumstances, result in growth disorders. If food with a high water content develops mould, you should throw it all away immediately and clean the container thoroughly. Such foods include soft and semi-hard cheeses, soups, sauces, dairy products such as curd cheese and yoghurt, bread, fruit, vegetables and nuts. If pockets of mould appear in jams with a sugar content of over 50%, it is sufficient to get rid of the mould itself and a large part of the surrounding area.

Further links on this topic:
How to prevent food becoming spoiled

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