Field of Science

Technically how expert is that? Bread mold edition

A recent news article caught TPP's eye because it showed moldy (mouldy for some of you) bread. Then an expert, a senior technical information specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture, proceeded to give you advice about cutting mold off your bread or any other soft food. First of all the mold is obviously Penicillium, and it is not particularly harmful especially in such small amounts.  When you are eating blue cheeses you are eating species of Penicillium that were grown on bread before inoculating the milk curds with moldy bread crumbs.  A senior technical information specialist should know this, don't you think?  They go on about the problem with soft foods. 
"With soft food, it's very easy for the roots [of the mold], or the tentacles, or whatever creepy word you want to use....Basically, the mold spore's roots go much farther into bread than our eyes can see."  The roots, tentacles, or whatever creepy word you want to use?  How about filament or mycelium, one of the right words for the body of a fungus?Guess the USDA's senior technical information specialist did not read up on fungus before dishing out the advice.  And then a phrase like "mold spores's roots"?  What?  Spores germinate and produce filaments that grow into the organism's body, a mycelium. Do you find this language particularly creepy? A junior information specialist would have used the word "icky" instead. 
What they were trying to explain here is that the mold extends far beyond the portion that you can generally see.  But the tone of the warning is needlessly alarming. TPP's rule is simpler, if you can easily remove the visible mold by trimming it away, like the bit on the edge of the slice of bread above, then the bread is not sufficiently moldy to avoid eating it, especially after you've toasted it and spread it with peanut butter, jelly, or Vegemite, which is made from fungus (yeast) itself.  Some molds like Penicillum are used deliberately to infect certain foods to prevent other molds and bacteria from growing because these molds are famous for producing antibiotics like the well-known penicillin. And better the mold you know than some other spoilage organism.
So how much can you trust the advice from someone who doesn't get even the basic technical facts correct, and uses alarmist language?  Too many communication courses, not enough science on Marianne's CV is TPP's guess.

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