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Orange and Pink Cheese Molds -- Really (Really!) Bad or ..."Not So Much"?

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Help me sort out whether I should absolutely not scrape or cut pink or orange molds on the cheese in the fridge.

I googled, but haven't found much definitive on the problems with the molds -- in detail and not generalities.

Here are some bits of info that I''ve googled.

>>>>"""The big aspect of cheese mold acceptability is that you stay away from any black, orange, or pink molds. These are no good and can be a true detriment to your cheese…and potentially your sensitive stomach if eaten in large doses."""<<<< http://www.wastedfood.com/2008/06/10/...

So, reading that, I see that there are a couple of qualifiers in that sentence that make me think it ain't so bad to cut off the pink or orange mold and eat the cheese in moderation....

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This USDA info sheet isn't much more helpful!!!! http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/m...
>>>>""""

Hard cheese
(not cheese where mold is part of the processing) Use. Cut off at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot (keep the knife out of the mold itself so it will not cross-contaminate other parts of the cheese). After trimming off the mold, re-cover the cheese in fresh wrap. Mold generally cannot penetrate deep into the product.

Cheese made with mold
(such as Roquefort, blue, Gorgonzola, Stilton, Brie, Camembert)
Discard soft cheeses such as Brie and Camembert if they contain molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process.
If surface mold is on hard cheeses such as Gorgonzola and Stilton, cut off mold at least 1 inch around and below the mold spot and handle like hard cheese (above). Molds that are not a part of the manufacturing process can be dangerous.

Soft cheese
(such as cottage, cream cheese, Neufchatel, chevre, Bel Paese, etc.) Crumbled, shredded, and sliced cheeses (all types) Discard.
Foods with high moisture content can be contaminated below the surface. Shredded, sliced, or crumbled cheese can be contaminated by the cutting instrument. Moldy soft cheese can also have bacteria growing along with the mold.""""<<<<

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Help me expert hounds! Please! I want to rescue the cheese! (Citations to scientific or authoritative articles get extra points!)

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  1. You didn't say what kind of cheese you have. It would be helpful to know that.

    Some molds only cause spoilage, while others release harmful toxins. That's the basis for distinguishing between on the one hand, blue, green, white and grey molds, which fall generally into the spoilage category and can be cut away, and on the other hand, pink, red, orange, yellow or black molds, which are potentially more dangerous. A particular patch of mold of the "wrong" color may, in fact, not be toxic, but you'd have to send a sample to a laboratory to determine that, so it's best to err on the side of caution.

    As the information you found on the Internet points out, the firmness of a cheese also affects mold growth and influences the decision about whether to trim it or throw it away. Molds put out "tentacles" as they grow and penetrate from the surface into the interior. They thrive on air and moisture. A firm or hard cheese has less moisture and the paste is tighter, so molds grow more slowly. A soft or semi-soft cheese with a high moisture content and a more open structure allows for rapid growth of mold into the interior. Beyond that, mold that starts inside the cheese and grows outward (rather the the reverse) is much more likely in a soft cheese. Also, because soft cheeses deform and break easily when pressure is put on them, it is common to accidentally introduce mold into another part of the cheese when you're trying to remove it. Thus the recommendation to discard soft cheeses, as well as shredded, grated, or crumbled cheeses, with any type of mold.

    For firm cheeses with a "safe" mold on the surface (say, a firm cheese with blue-green mold), I find the recommendation to remove a full inch around all sides to be overly cautious. A half inch should be fine and there are people who don't cut more than a quarter of an inch beyond the point of visible mold.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cheesemaestro

      Pink and orange cheese molds are nasty-looking -- bubble-gum pink or neon-orange slime. Not something I'm going to eat, and not something anyone is going to confuse with the orangey-red goodness of a healthy orange cheese rind.

      The USDA sheet says "molds used in the manufacturing process" -- that would cover white, green, and orangey-red. Slimy bubble-gum pink and snotty-looking neon orange aren't used to make any cheese I've ever seen (or would ever eat).

      The USDA sheet is also pretty clear...

      In soft cheeses -- throw it out.
      Shredded, crumbled, or sliced cheese -- throw it out.

      Bottom line is, the $5 I spent on that chunk of cheese just isn't worth spending a few days worshiping the porcelain gods or ending up in the hospital. Toss it out.

    2. The info you printed from the USDA info sheet seems pretty sensible. I'd follow that advice without hesitation.