Does all expired cake and pancake mix contain toxic and deadly mold?
Nope! Mycotoxins are a type of mold that can be toxic in large quantities. It's a specific mold that grows under certain conditions and isn't determined by a "Best if Used By" date.
David Denning- Professor of Infectious Diseases in Global Health at University of Manchester and President of the Global Action Fund for Fungal Infections
Randy Worobo- Professor of Food Microbiology, Cornell University
Lauren Sucher- U.S. Food & Drug Administration Press Officer
USDA Food Product Dating
Duncan Hines Facebook Post
Jianghong Meng- Director and Professor Joint Institute for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition
A viral Facebook post shared over 200,000 times is once again sounding the alarm.
It says a high school student went into anaphylactic shock after making pancakes from an expired mix. The box had grown toxic mold sending the student, who was allergic to mold, to the hospital.
The post claims that anyone with expired cake, cookies, brownies or pancake mixes should toss them in the trash or risk eating poisonous mold.
The warning first appeared in a "Dear Abby" from 2006, resurfacing just about every year since 2013.Then, Duncan Hines responded saying, there's no issue with using mixes past their "best buy" dates.
"Due to consumer inquiries regarding mold developing in expired mixes, we would like to assure you that there is no concern with products manufactured by Pinnacle Foods Group LLC," Duncan Hines wrote on April 4, 2013. "We place a “BEST BY” date on the packaging to ensure product quality in terms of appearance, texture and taste of the finished item. There is no food safety concern in using Duncan Hines cake mixes or Mrs. Butterworth's pancake mixes that beyond their “BEST BY” dates.
In general, keeping mixes in a cool, dry place will prevent mold growth, Duncan Hines advised.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture agreed. Mold needs water and humidity to bloom and infect.
Fungal infection expert David Denning says there's lost of food made of mold--types of cheeses or tempeh--even if mold did grow in a dry environment like a cake mix box, that doesn't automatically mean the mold is lethal.
"A small amount of mold isn't going to do anybody any harm, apart from this rare circumstance that you've described of anaphylaxis, to somebody whose allergic to it," Denning said. "That could happen with brie cheese--with all sorts of other things."
Randy Worobo a Professor of all things food and spoilage at Cornell says he saw the post on his own newsfeed and said, 'oh,please.'
"You can have 100 different molds growing on a food and if they don't product mycotoxins and they're not pathogenic, they're not going to make you sick," Worobo said. "We don't get sick when we eat blue cheese, right?"
Worobo advises to check and see if mold is visible as mold typically grows on the surface. Only people who are 'immune compromised'--people undergoing chemotherapy, the elderly, young, pregnant--should be careful.
Verify did speak with one expert, Dr. Jianghong Meng, who says don't chance it; if it's expired, toss it. Since dry mixes typically have a shelf life of two years, he says you have plenty of time to get it while it's still good.