Yesterday I bought a pack of cherry tomatoes and after arriving home I discovered that one of them had developed some impressive black mold (it was bigger than the tomato itself!). Of course, I tossed the offending tomato and the packaging, washed the remaining tomatoes and put them in a clean box. Now I'm hesitating though; are they safe to eat?


5 Answers 5


Yes - the mold is an indication that the spores have entered that tomato, but do not indicate any problems with others. Mold usually enters fruits like tomato through the stem site or damage to the skin. The bits you see outside the fruit are actually the fruiting bodies of the fungus (equivalent of the bit you eat on a mushroom - the rest is below the soil). These fruiting bodies produce tons of spores. You should use the others fairly quickly before any released spores have a chance to potentially start growing in them.

Edited to add: The general advice would be to discard any fruit that are attached to the main one by the fungal body, wash the others well to remove any potential spores off them, dry well (wetness promotes fungal growth) and use within a short time frame.

The USDA has some good advice here - with thanks to SnakeDoc for finding this one.

  • Do you have any sources to support this claim? I couldn't find anything from a reliable source.
    – Paula
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 7:27
  • 2
    @Paula - how does this suit? https://www.huffpost.com/entry/moldy-fruit-okay-to-eat_n_59402f8ee4b003d5948b6f72
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 7:48
  • 7
    Wash the others more than you would normally, to make sure that you remove as much of the mold/spores as possible
    – Flydog57
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 15:39
  • @SnakeDoc no, not normally, however they consulted with a food safety person from the USDA on this one...
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:54
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    How about something from the USDA instead? fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/…
    – SnakeDoc
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 18:59

I once worked in grocery produce.

The skin offers a remarkably effective protective layer. I have opened crates of tomatoes where one has completely turned to mush, while every other tomato in the crate is pristine. Same for apples and pears and every other kind of fruit, really. Wash well and the rest are fine. This is standard practice commercially.

As an aside, as other several popular questions on this stack go into, most of the molds growing on fruit are harmless to humans anyway. You could probably just eat that rotten tomato, especially if you cooked it. Though I wouldn't really advise it.

  • 1
    Would the mold of fruits be the same as the one in bread? Because in the case it is, I want to state by experience that, regardless being "safe", expect to go to the toilet more often in the following 2 days
    – M.K
    Commented Feb 23, 2021 at 23:31
  • 14
    @M.K, no molds in bread are generally Penicillium, Cladosporium or Rhizopus. Tomato molds tend to be Alternaria or Botrytis.
    – bob1
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 2:13
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    I would upvote this, but ‘you could probably eat that rotten tomato’ comes across as speculation. Do you have anything to back that up?
    – Canned Man
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 15:05
  • 1
    I agree with @CannedMan. Molds often produce toxins. Some toxins are heat stable. I don't know what kind of toxins you would expect to find from molds on tomatoes, but that seems pretty risky to me.
    – aswine
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 16:34
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    I decided to add a downvote (to low rep for it to affect the current score) based on this (fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/…): ‘Are Some Molds Dangerous? Yes, some molds cause allergic reactions and respiratory problems. And a few molds, in the right conditions, produce “mycotoxins,” poisonous substances that can make you sick.’ (My emphasis.) It doesn’t get more official than the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.
    – Canned Man
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 18:02

Yes indeed - just remove the offending tomato and check the rest of the tomatoes for any sign of rot or mold. If you find any others with mold on them, remove them as well.


You throw away anything that has come into contact with mould. Why are you willing to risk your health over a 1.50$ packet of tomatoes? You cannot judge microbacterial growth by color or smell, you toss it as a matter of principle. Mould varies a tremendous amount. You do indeed get penicillin strains in some foods and then you also black mould that can kill you, you don't know which is which. I would not risk it


This is a topic that already has a lot of input from Quora: When one tomato gets moldy in the package, is it still safe to rinse off and eat the remaining tomatoes? Most of the 21 answers there says the rest of the tomatoes will be okay to eat, and I agree.

Also, as one answer puts it: "I see no problem what so ever, with a small amount of mold than can be trimmed. However, I go by smell. If there is an off odor. Toss it." But of course, since yours is a cherry tomato, I doubt you will be able to trim the mold off; just throw that moldy one out, and don't forget to thoroughly rinse the rest of the cherry tomatoes out.

  • 3
    Strongly disagree with your second paragraph. The visible mold is NOT the main problem; the mold inside the fruit is.
    – Joe M
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 15:46
  • @JoeM The second paragraph dign't say anything about disregarding mold on the inside... Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 16:20
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    I see no problem what so ever, with a small amount of mold than can be trimmed. You cannot just "trim the mold" (implied: the visible mold) in a tomato, because the mold will be, invisibly, throughout the tomato once it is inside it at all. Even a large tomato would need to be entirely thrown out, as the entire thing is contaminated. It is like an iceberg (the majority of it is underneath) - except an iceberg is visible under the water, while the mycelium is not even then. Note the USDA instructions in the (current) top answer.
    – Joe M
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 16:21
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    Because in a soft-fleshed fruit/veggie, there are no good parts. I'm glad you've not gotten sick, but the "trim one inch" is only applicable to hard fruits [and hard cheeses]; soft fruits/veggies, like tomatoes, are assumed to be entirely infested, and even if only part of it did have mycelium in it, the mycotoxins would easily spread in the liquid interior.
    – Joe M
    Commented Feb 24, 2021 at 17:15
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    @AnastasiaZendaya Health effects are not always immediate and obvious. Some fungi produce mycotoxins that can e.g. affect kidney function or lead to cancer in the long run.
    – Dubu
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 9:55

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