If you throw cheese away at the first sight of a few tufts of green mould growing on its sides, you may have wasted perfectly edible - not to mention extremely delicious - food.
That’s because cheese actually has a longer shelf life than many of us might think. But that doesn’t mean you should scoff rancid cubes of brie or chew fuzzy blocks of gruyere willy nilly - unless you want to get very, very sick.
As they say, prevention is better than cure - and side-stepping mouldy cheese is no different. So, it's best to store your cheese properly to avoid having to decide whether to bin in at all. To do so, first identify what the type of cheese you're dealing with.
Stored properly, an unopened packet of hard cheese like parmesan or cheddar can be kept in the fridge for between two and four months or eight months in the freezer, according to food website Tasting Table. Once opened, hard cheese is generally safe to eat for six weeks.
Gruyere, gouda and other cheese which aren’t entirely hard or soft can meanwhile be stored in a fridge for two to three weeks after they are opened, or two months in the freezer if the packet is untouched.
But soft cheeses, which contain the most moisture, must be eaten within two weeks of being opened. These include brie, feta and camembert.
As for cutting off mould, this is generally perfectly safe with hard cheese because of their low moisture content, Australian health official Dr Ailsa Hocking told ABC.net. To be extra safe, cut a few centimetres away from the mould.
Unfortunately, mould spreads easier in softer, moister cheeses, and is harder to identify. So if a soft cheese is out of date, it's probably not worth the risk. In the end, if the cheese doesn't quite smell right and looks a little too hairy to salvage it's probably best to bin it for the sake of your health.