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Christine Bruhn, PhD is the Director of the Center for Consumer Research at the University of California, Davis where she earned her doctorate. Dr. Bruhn has a special interest and passion for safe food handling practices. Her major area of research is in consumer attitudes and perceptions of food quality, safety and wholesomeness. Dr. Bruhn travels widely and is a sought after speaker at both academic and government conferences on food safety and food handling and food processing technologies . She currently serves on several education and advisory panels including the Food and Drug Administration's Risk Communication Advisory Group. In addition, she is often contacted by members of the media when questions of food safety make the news, especially in her home state of California. Along with her interest in making sure everyone knows “How to determine when your food had gone bad,” she is an avid cook and enjoys sharing practical food safety tips with her family and friends. For more information on food safety and nutrition questions, please visit IFIC.org.
How to Tell if Your Bread has Gone Bad
Christine Bruhn, Center for Consumer Research at UC Davis, shows how to identify spoiled bread.
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Christine Bruhn: Hello, I am Dr. Christine Bruhn, University of California, Davis, the Food Science Department and today I am going to tell you how you can tell if your food has gone bad and I am going to focus now on how you can tell if your bread has gone bad. Well, the squeeze test is a really good way to begin, though keep in mind, some breads are naturally soft and some naturally have a little bit more texture, but at least you can tell if there is still some tenderness and moisture inside. Something like this bun though, it looks great. It is a little bit hard and you might have a little flexibility for some uses, but I think I would make this into croutons or maybe into bread pudding, that's a delightful way of using good tasting bread that's just gone a little bit hard on you. The main thing with bread is to look for things like mold and this commercial bread has calcium propionate as one of the ingredients and that actually retards mold growth. So this will have a pretty long shelf-life. Do check the date this has it on the 'Sell by,' a little slip, this is a Sell by Date and that gives you an idea of how fresh the bread is. If you are buying a lot of bread and you are going to keep it for a while, then you better watch out for mold. This bakery bread is quite delicious, but when I opened it up, unfortunately, I saw some mold growing on the inside slices. Now that is going to taste awful and if it is on these slices, it maybe on other slices. If you are really pressed for bread, you might go through each one and check to make sure it looks okay and maybe you can use some of the other slices, but moldy bread in your mouth really tastes yucky. Something like this hamburger bun, oh, that mold has really gone to town and it is growing there again. If you are really pressed for bread you might be able to cut that off and use some of the other pieces, but I would look inside to check if the inside is present and look on the bottom and so forth decide that you want your food to taste good and the mold tastes really bad. Don't be concerned just because you see a spot of something. For example, these rolls, they have a little white on the bottom, that's just flour. It is not a sign of mold growth. They are not as fresh as they might be. They feel a little bit hard and stale, so you can crisp them up by putting them in a warm oven, maybe 250 degrees for ten minutes or so and that will make them have that more fresh hard on the outside, soft on the inside which is so very delicious. In fact, with all of your bread if you are buying more than you can use, these are some ways you can control staling or that getting hard. If you want to just worry about the staling aspects, put it in your freezer. If you put your bread in the refrigerator it will control the mold growth, but staling would be more rapid. So you can overcome that again with heat. Just like the rolls can go in the oven, the slices of bread can go in the toaster and that will overcome that stale that's been around for a while taste. So as far as bread is concerned, the real issue and how can you tell if your food has gone bad, is a taste issue. You are looking at texture and the staling and you are looking at the presence of mold. Mold tastes yucky, so if you see it, cut it out or throw it out. Next, we are going to be talking about how to tell if your luncheon meat has gone bad.