Does Food Get Moldy in the Freezer?

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Food is essentially a perishable item, and all perishable objects require you to maintain them in the appropriate way so they can last as long as possible. One of the things you need to be vigilant regarding when it comes to storing and consuming food is the formation of molds, which are microscopic fungi that latch onto food under the required conditions, causing it to rot, lose flavor, discolor, and so on.

Most of us like to store our food in the freezer or refrigerator, but can mold grow there too? Yes, it can, provided you neglect their overall cleanliness.  There are certain microbes called cryophiles that can form in very cold temperatures as well, particularly at 5°F (-15°C). This is the reason why freezing is not supposed to be something you should rely on for too long, as frozen foods cannot last forever.

Most molds tend to grow in warmer temperatures, especially in the case you’re putting your food out in the open air for longer periods of time. However, frozen food doesn’t stay good forever either. Most frozen foods from the store are labelled with instructions regarding the optimal temperature to store them, and for how long you can store them before they begin spoiling.

Let us provide you an in-depth guide towards how you may keep your food mold-free so that it can be usable for a long period of time, and also other questions you might have regarding molds.

What is Molded Food and What Does It Look Like?

Mold is a type of fungus which forms on food under certain physical conditions. For example, food containing liquid content is vulnerable to mold formation, as well as certain kinds of foods which require you to store them in colder conditions as opposed to warmer, and vice versa.

Mold on food is visible to the naked eye in the form of white, green, black or grey patches or spores. These molds can cause food to discolor and lose their original texture, while the spores themselves will have a dusty or fluffy feel to them.

Is it Dangerous to Consume Molded Food?

Short answer: yes, it is dangerous to eat molded foods, and the moment you spot a molded food item, it is best to discard it immediately lest it ends up infecting other foods around it with mold as well.

Molds are harmful mainly because of harmful bacteria and the formation of mycotoxins, which are poisonous chemicals that infect food leaving it unable to be consumed safely. One of the most major mycotoxins includes Aflatoxin, which forms mostly on corns and peanuts, and if ingested, can cause cancer. It is usually formed in areas of extreme heat conditions.

For the uninformed person, molds might only lie on the surface of the food, and they may be tempted to just remove the outer parts of the food containing visible spores using a knife, but the problem is that molds don’t lie just on the surface. They form their roots deep within the food they latch onto.

Health issues caused by ingesting molded food include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions and so on.

Are All Kinds of Molds Harmful to Eat?

Interestingly enough, some molds are harmless to consume, with some even being actually used by food industries to create certain forms of food. This includes blue cheese, which uses a mold called Penicillium that does not produce mycotoxins.

However, that does not mean Penicillium is not inherently harmful. It all comes down to the kind of food a certain mold grows on. Penicillium is harmless and actually practical when it comes to blue cheese, but will bear the same harmful effects of other kinds of molds if it forms on fresh or grated cheese.

Ways to Keep your Foods from Getting Moldy in the Freezer

Now that we’ve covered in depth the various harms of molds, let us provide you a guide to help you understand how you can protect your foods from the evils of mold formation, so you’re able to store them for longer periods of time.

In general, remedial steps have already been taken by food industries such as the use of preservatives to prevent molds or other harmful bacteria from forming on food. This also includes canned foods, which already contain agents that protect them against rotting and spoiling as long as the can is not unsealed. Regardless, let’s go over some of the safety tips you can follow at your end to preserve your food better:

1) Cleaning Your Freezer or Refrigerator Regularly

We’ve talked about how certain kinds of foods can catch cryophilic microbes given they are stored in the freezer or refrigerator at a temperature too cold, but molds can also form if you don’t regularly clean your freezer or refrigerator. It’s important to take all the foods out once every 3-4 months, and do a thorough clean-up before putting the foods back. Make sure you don’t miss cleaning any part, corner, compartment, or any potential area where germs might exist.

2) Use Air-Tight Containers

Glass Meal Prep Containers
Glass Meal Prep Containers

Most foods should be fine if stored in a neat and thoroughly clean freezer, but for further preservation, consider using air-tight containers as this will deprive any potential molds from the moisture they require to form on foods. You can use Ziploc bags, glass containers, plastic boxes, and so on.

3) Defrosting with the Door Open

Freezing food is considered one of the ways to keep mold away, but molds can certainly form in the freezer’s surface as well, which is something you wouldn’t want. Mold may form in the freezer if it is being defrosted while the door is closed. You should always keep the door open while performing the defrost function, otherwise the warmth and moisture inside the freezer will provide just the right environment for molds to form.

4) Checking for Water Spills in Your Freezer

Water spillage in your freezer, which particularly happens in the case of freezers that are manually defrosted, is also one of the things to be vigilant about in order to keep molds at bay.

Regularly check your freezer if there’s any excess water. If there is, make a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and after removing all the food from the freezer, spray the interior a few times. Use a paper towel to wipe the solution off, and repeat until the freezer is thoroughly clean.

5) Storing the Right Kinds of Foods in the Refrigerator

It’s important to always do a quick Google research to know whether the kind of food you want to store should be stored in a cool environment or it requires a warm environment for its preservation.

Certain foods that do not need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer include: breads, honey, peanuts, coffee beans, potatoes, garlic, cucumbers, and so on. These are better off stored at room temperature, and will only spoil if stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

6) Discarding Foods that Are Spoiling

Most people are reluctant to throw away food as it appears to be a waste of the money you spent in buying that particular food item. However, it’s important to make sure all the contents in your refrigerator or freezer are free from any sort of molds so they don’t end up infecting the other food items as well.

7) Using Foods that Perish Fast, Fast

Certain kinds of foods start spoiling within a matter of few days, so the best thing you can do is consuming them quickly. For example, cooked vegetables start spoiling after five to seven days, while certain meats such as fish start spoiling after as little as two days.

8) Clean Using Clean Supplies

You shouldn’t only consider your refrigerator or freezer, but your cleaning equipment as well. Make sure you’re not using dirty sponges or blankets while carrying out your regular refrigerator or freezer clean-up, as this will only produce opposite results.

Dealing with Soft and Hard Molded Foods

The good news is: you can consume certain kinds of molded foods, if they haven’t spoiled a bit too much, and this mostly comes down to whether they’re hard foods or soft foods.

Soft fruits and vegetables like strawberries and cucumbers should be discarded immediately, as well as bread, jellies, and yogurt. However, certain hard foods, for example, hard cheese, can still be consumed as long as it isn’t completely covered by mold.

If that isn’t the case, you can simply remove the molded part with a knife, and you’ll be good to go. This also includes some of the harder fruits and vegetables, for example apples, coconuts, carrots etc.

Bonus Safety Tip:

You might be curious to do so, but if you find one of your food items has caught mold, do not smell it. Not just eating, but even sniffing heavily molded foods can cause health problems.


Food can pretty much get moldy whether in very warm conditions or very cold conditions, depending on the type of food, and the environment they’re stored in. It’s always important to do a bit of research on the best way to store a particular kind of food, and also to make sure that your freezer, refrigerator, kitchen cabinet or whichever place you’ve stored your food in is neat and clean.

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