Can You Really Eat Mouldy Food Like Theresa May Reportedly Does?

By Matt Novak on at

Have you ever come across some particularly tasty food in the fridge, only to be bummed out that it’s all mouldy? Well, if you’re the Prime Minister it doesn’t faze you in the slightest.

At least that’s what came out of this morning's news. Prime Minister Theresa May has reportedly told members of her cabinet that when she discovers mould on her jam she just scrapes it off and still eats the jam. Seriously.

The report comes from the Daily Mail, which should always be taken with a grain of salt. But plenty of others have picked up the story, which admittedly seems pretty gross.

From the Daily Mail:

Her hot tip came during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting in a discussion on how to reduce food waste.

Mrs May said once the [mould] is removed the rest of the jam is ‘perfectly edible’, a Whitehall source told the Mail. She also said food shouldn’t be [thrown away] just because it is past its best before date, saying shoppers should use ‘common sense’ to check if it is edible.

So, no need to worry about Brexit then, because we can all just eat mouldy jam.

Brexit threatens to be an economic disaster for the UK, with just 44 days left until the country is scheduled to leave the European Union. The country is stocking up on everything from food to medicine to body bags and rubber gloves as it prepares to be potentially cut off from trade with other European countries. And hopefully we're also stocking up on jam. The non-mouldy kind of jam, preferably.

I’ll admit that when I first saw this story I thought it was a joke. But it appears to be 100 per cent sincere. And here’s the weirdest part: some experts agree with the Prime Minister, at least the in the UK. American experts have a different attitude.

Here’s how NPR explained in 2017 what you can and cannot eat after it becomes u:

Some moulds, like those used for Gorgonzola cheese, are safe to eat. But the mould dotting bread isn’t a benign source of extra fibre. Gravely says people who eat mouldy food may suffer allergic reactions and respiratory problems. Even inhaling mould can be dangerous. To avoid breathing mould, the USDA recommends putting food in a plastic bag and then in a covered trashcan, out of the reach of children and animals.

[...]

Soft fruits, lunch meats and jams also must be tossed once mouldy, she adds. But for those who mourn their castaway croissants, there’s some good news: Tougher foods are salvageable even after fungus has invaded. Hard cheeses, salamis and vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and cabbage have tougher surfaces, making it more difficult for a mould’s roots to move through. So you can excise the mould at the surface before it ruins the food’s interior. For such foods, Gravely recommends cutting the mould out with a clean knife, allowing an inch of buffer on each side of a fuzzy patch.

But apparently they have different opinions on mould in the UK, especially about jam.

Here’s a story from 2011 quoting British experts in the Guardian:

But there’s some good news. According to Wareing, most jam mould can safely be spooned away with no further threat to life and limb, while patulin is destroyed by fermentation. All of which means that so long as you stick to a diet of cider and marmalade, you should be entirely safe.

So what should you do when your jam gets mouldy? Probably toss it out, just to be on the safe side. Unless, of course, your life has turned into something like The Road in post-Brexit Britain, in which case save every fucking piece of sustenance you can find.

We’re all for being frugal, but we draw the line at eating mouldy food. And so do many experts. The American kind, anyway. You say mouldy to-may-to, I say mouldy ta-mah-to.

Featured image: Getty Images