Why is fruit and veg going off so quickly? Can you eat mouldy food?

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Best before and use-by dates are a common feature on almost every food product. But when it comes to fruit and veg, it can be a little more unpredictable. If you’re noticing mouldy or mushy fruit and veg becoming a weekly occurrence in your home, it could spell bad news for attracting fruit flies and other bugs into your kitchen – but what could be the cause of your overripe produce?

What causes food to go off?

There are many factors which play a part in how long fresh food like fruit and vegetables will last.

How and where you store everything from your broccoli to your bananas will play a pretty big role in how long they stay fresh for – so pay attention to your fridge and fruit bowl to spot any problems.

Some of the primary culprits of mould on your fruit and veg include air, light, moisture and temperature.

If you expose your fruit and veg to too much of any of these, don’t expect your weekly shop of fresh, healthy produce to last too long

When fruits and vegetables are over-exposed to light, the outer layers begin to spoil, leaving them discoloured and flavourless.

Moisture rich items like softer fruits and vegetables can attract bacteria through small openings like holes, rips and cracks.

Bacteria will thrive in the moist core of peaches, nectarines, cucumbers, tomatoes, and many more soft foods which in some cases can cause serious illness if consumed.

Too much heat or humid temperatures will also make for an inviting home for bacteria to multiply, leaving food spoiled and foul-smelling.

Can you eat mouldy fruit and veg?

There are a few no-go items when it comes to finding mould on your fresh fruit and vegetables.

While it may seem less wasteful to consume mouldy fruit and vegetables, there are a few products you should stay away from.

Generally, you should live by this rule when it comes to salvaging mould fruit and veg:

  • Soft fruits and vegetables should be discarded
  • Firm fruits and vegetables can be eaten by cutting off mould spots

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With an average water content of 90 percent or more, items like tomatoes, cucumbers and berries should generally be discarded, as their watery core will likely be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

Typical signs of decaying are:

  • Bruises
  • Blemishes
  • Discolouration
  • Mould
  • Slimy patches
  • Unpleasant odour or taste

Most fruits and vegetables spoil easily because of damage caused by microorganisms – such as bacteria, yeast and moulds – which need water and nutrients for growth, energy and reproduction.

How to stop food going off quickly

Clearing out your vegetable drawers, cupboards and fruit bowls is one of the best ways to prevent mouldy fruit.

Microorganisms such as bacteria can linger in the very place you store your fresh veggies, which can enter small holes in produce leading it to go off in a matter of days.

Check for rogue items which may have gone off that could be buried under new fruit or vegetables, spreading mould and bacteria onto the other fruit and vegetables.

Cleaning your fridge drawers or fruit bowls is also another quick-fix to help prevent spoiled produce, so use a food-safe cleanser to kill bacteria or bugs which could be loitering.

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