Can You Eat Moldy Mozzarella Cheese? Is It Still Safe?

moldy mozzarella cheese

Mozzarella, with its creamy texture and delicate flavor, is a beloved staple in the culinary world. From traditional Italian dishes to contemporary gourmet creations, mozzarella adds a distinctive touch to a wide array of recipes. 

However, like any perishable food item, mozzarella is susceptible to mold growth over time. So, it is important to know how mold grows, what risks might be involved, and the best way to handle this beloved cheese.

In this article, we embark on a culinary adventure, exploring the fascinating world of moldy mozzarella cheese. We’ll uncover the science behind those fuzzy specks, dissect the risks, and reveal whether that block of cheese in your refrigerator is still worthy of your taste buds. 

Join us as we unravel the mysteries of moldy mozzarella and help you make an informed decision the next time you’re faced with this cheesy predicament.

Understanding Mold on Food

moldy yellow cheddar cheese

Before we dive deeper into whether you can eat mozzarella with mold, let’s understand the basics of mold on food.

Mold is a type of fungus, and it can grow on a wide range of organic materials, including cheese. It reproduces by releasing spores into the air, which can land on the food and begin to grow. When mold grows on cheese, it sends out root threads deep into the cheese, making it difficult to remove entirely.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when dealing with mold on food:

  • Not all molds are created equal: While some molds are harmless, others are toxic and harmful to humans. The color and texture of the mold can provide some clues about its safety, but it’s not a foolproof method for determining safety.
  • Soft cheeses are more susceptible: Soft cheeses like mozzarella, brie, and camembert have a higher moisture content, making them more susceptible to mold growth. Hard cheeses like cheddar and Parmesan are less susceptible because their lower moisture content inhibits mold growth.
  • Mold can penetrate deep: Mold doesn’t just grow on the surface of food. It can penetrate deeper into the product. While you can cut off the visible mold, the invisible threads may have spread deeper.
  • Health risks: Eating moldy food can lead to various health risks, including food poisoning and allergic reactions. Mycotoxins produced by some molds can be particularly dangerous.

What Does Mouldy Mozzarella Look Like?

moldy mozzarella

Mold on mozzarella can vary in appearance, depending on the specific type of mold and the extent of contamination. In general, you might notice fuzzy, discolored patches on the surface of the cheese. These patches can range in color from white or blue to green or grey. Sometimes, the mold growth might be subtle, presenting as small specks or dots on the cheese’s surface.

Mold AppearanceDescription
Fuzzy patchesOften white, blue, green, or grey
Specks or dotsSmall and subtle
Slimy textureIndicates advanced contamination

When mold is severely affecting mozzarella, it may become slimy. The mozzarella then emits an unpleasant odor that indicates advanced contamination. Understanding these visual cues is crucial in determining whether the mozzarella is still safe for consumption or if it should be discarded.

Can You Eat Mozzarella If It Has Mold on It? Will It Make You Sick?

Consuming mozzarella with mold is not recommended, particularly if the mold has penetrated beyond the surface. Mold can produce mycotoxins, which are harmful compounds that can cause adverse health effects when ingested. These toxins can lead to various symptoms, including allergic reactions, respiratory issues, and, in severe cases, even organ damage

Therefore, exercise caution and adhere to food safety guidelines when dealing with moldy mozzarella.

When Is Moldy Mozzarella Safe to Eat?

While mold on food is generally something to be cautious about, there are instances when it’s safe to consume mozzarella with mold:

  • Hard vs. soft cheese: As mentioned earlier, hard cheeses are less susceptible to mold growth and are generally considered safe to eat after cutting off the affected area. However, soft cheeses, like mozzarella, are more problematic because the mold can penetrate deeper.
  • Surface mold vs. internal mold: If the mold is only on the surface of the cheese and the inside appears unaffected, you can cut off the affected portion, along with a bit extra for good measure. You can safely consume the rest.
  • Type of mold: If you notice mold that is green, blue, or black, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard the cheese. White or orange mold on hard cheese can often be removed, but when it comes to soft cheese, it’s still a risk.
  • Your health: If you have a weakened immune system or are pregnant, it’s best to avoid eating moldy cheese altogether, as your body may be less equipped to deal with potential toxins.

Remember, when in doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re unsure about the safety of your mozzarella, it’s best to discard it.

How Long Is Mozzarella Good For? (Mozzarella Shelf Life)

The shelf life of mozzarella varies depending on its type, packaging, and storage conditions. Fresh mozzarella, typically stored in brine or water, has a relatively short shelf life compared to processed or aged mozzarella. Here’s a general guideline for the shelf life of different types of mozzarella:

  1. Fresh mozzarella: When stored properly in the refrigerator, fresh mozzarella can last for about 1 to 2 weeks. However, it’s advisable to consume it within a few days for the best quality and taste.
  2. Shredded or sliced mozzarella: Packaged shredded or sliced cheese mozzarella usually has a longer shelf life, lasting up to 3 to 4 weeks if refrigerated correctly.
  3. Aged or smoked mozzarella: These varieties have a longer shelf life compared to fresh mozzarella. When stored properly, they can last for 2 to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.

It’s crucial to note that these time frames are general estimates, and the actual shelf life might vary based on specific storage conditions and the presence of preservatives in the cheese.

Preventing Mold on Mozzarella

Preventing mold growth on mozzarella involves implementing a series of simple yet effective measures that can prolong its freshness and quality. By following these guidelines, you can minimize the risk of mold formation and extend the shelf life of your mozzarella.

  1. Proper storage: Store mozzarella in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in plastic wrap to prevent exposure to air, which can accelerate mold growth.
  2. Refrigeration: Always store mozzarella in the refrigerator, maintaining a temperature below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial and mold proliferation.
  3. Hygiene: Ensure that your hands, cutting boards, and utensils are clean when handling mozzarella. Contaminated surfaces can introduce bacteria and mold to the cheese.
  4. Limited exposure to moisture: Excessive moisture can facilitate mold growth. To prevent this, pat the mozzarella dry before storing it and avoid storing it in its brine for extended periods.

You can prolong the freshness of your mozzarella cheese and drastically lower the risk of mold growth by implementing these preventive measures into your storage routine.

Does Mozzarella Go Bad If Not Refrigerated?

Mozzarella, like most dairy products, is highly perishable and susceptible to spoilage if not stored under the appropriate conditions. If left unrefrigerated for an extended period, mozzarella can quickly reach temperatures that facilitate the growth of bacteria and mold, leading to rapid deterioration. 

Exposure to higher temperatures can cause the cheese to become slimy, emit a pungent odor, and develop visible mold patches, rendering it unsafe for consumption.

To preserve the freshness and integrity of mozzarella, it’s crucial to refrigerate it promptly after purchase or use. Additionally, ensure that the refrigerator maintains a consistent temperature to prevent fluctuations that could compromise the quality and safety of the cheese. 

On some occasions, the cheese still has mold in the refrigerator. So,  following these guidelines can help extend the shelf life of mozzarella and preserve its delectable taste and texture.

Signs of Mozzarella Has Gone Bad

Recognizing the signs that mozzarella has spoiled is essential to preventing any potential health risks associated with consuming deteriorated cheese. While mold growth is a prominent indicator of spoilage, several other visual and sensory cues can help identify whether the mozzarella has gone bad. Here are some key signs to watch out for:

Signs of Spoiled MozzarellaDescription
Foul odorA pungent, sour, or ammonia-like smell indicates bacterial contamination.
DiscolorationAny significant color changes, such as yellowing or browning, signal spoilage.
Slimy textureMozzarella that feels excessively slimy or sticky is a clear sign of deterioration.
Unusual tasteIf the cheese tastes sour, bitter, or has an off-putting flavor, it’s likely spoiled.

When encountering any of these signs, it’s best to discard the mozzarella to avoid the risk of foodborne illness or adverse health effects. Prioritizing food safety and quality is crucial to safeguarding your well-being and enjoying the exquisite flavors of mozzarella without any concerns.


In conclusion, while mozzarella is a delectable addition to various dishes, you need to remain vigilant about mold growth and adhere to food safety guidelines. Understanding the appearance of mold, the potential risks associated with consuming moldy mozzarella, and the recommended storage practices can help ensure a safe and enjoyable culinary experience. 

By prioritizing food safety, you can savor the exquisite flavors of mozzarella without compromising your well-being.

FAQs on Mozzarella Cheese and Mold

Can you remove mold from mozzarella?

Yes, you can remove mold from mozzarella by cutting off at least one inch around and below the moldy area. Ensure that the rest of the cheese shows no signs of mold and doesn’t have an off-putting smell.

How does mold affect mozzarella’s taste?

Mold can significantly alter the taste of mozzarella, giving it an off-flavor and sometimes a bitter or sour taste. Consuming mozzarella with mold can compromise the overall taste and quality of the cheese.

How can you prevent mold growth on mozzarella?

To prevent mold growth, store mozzarella properly in the refrigerator, use clean utensils, and minimize its exposure to moisture by patting it dry before storage.

Can you freeze mozzarella to extend its shelf life?

Freezing mozzarella can extend its shelf life, but it can alter its texture and make it slightly crumbly. It’s best to consume fresh mozzarella within a few days for optimal taste and texture.

What should you do if you accidentally consume moldy mozzarella?

If you’ve unknowingly consumed moldy mozzarella and experienced symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or allergic reactions, seek medical attention immediately and explain the situation to your healthcare provider.

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