Blue Cheese Mold
August 28, 2008
Why the mold in blue cheese doesn’t make us sick.
BOB HIRSHON (host):
Mold that makes the cheese…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
When food starts to grow mold, it usually means time to throw it away. But that prompted Joel of Phoenix, Arizona, to ask us why the mold in blue cheese is safe to eat. We consulted Mark Johnson, a senior scientist at the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research. He says the molds in blue cheese are specific Penicillium species that don’t produce any dangerous toxins. In fact, the mold is what makes blue cheese so tasty.
MARK JOHNSON (Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research):
The typical flavor you get out of mold-ripened cheeses comes from the mold. Without that mold, blue cheese would taste like feta cheese.
Other molds that grow on food are wild types that could produce bad flavors or even make you sick. A black mold, for example, is probably Aspergillus, which is very toxic. If you find this on your cheese, or any other food, Johnson says to toss it in the trash. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.