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Mold in Pancake Mix Warning

by Brett M. Christensen

Message warns that mold in old pancake mix can cause serious health problems and claims that a person died after eating mold-contaminated pancakes.





I recently made a batch of pancakes for my healthy 14-year-old son, using a mix that was in our pantry. He said that they tasted “funny,” but ate them anyway. About 10 minutes later, he began having difficulty breathing and his lips began turning purple. I gave him his allergy pill, had him sit on the sofa and told him to relax. He was wheezing while inhaling and exhaling. My husband, a volunteer firefighter and EMT, heated up some water, and we had my son lean over the water so the steam could clear his chest and sinuses. Soon, his breathing became more regular and his lips returned to a more normal color. We checked the date on the box of pancake mix and, to my dismay, found it was very outdated. As a reference librarian at an academic institution, I have the ability to search through many research databases. I did just that, and found an article the next day that mentioned a 19-year-old male DYING after eating pancakes made with outdated mix. Apparently, the mold that forms in old pancake mix can be toxic! When we told our friends about my son’s close call, we were surprised at the number of people who mentioned that they should check their own pancake mix since they don’t use it often, or they had purchased it some time ago. With so many people shopping at warehouse-type stores and buying large sizes of pancake mix, I hope your readers will take the time to check the expiration date on their boxes. Also, beware of outdated cake, brownie and cookie mixes.


Detailed Analysis:
This “Dear Abby” article was first published in various newspapers during April 2006 and is now circulating via email and online.

Although the experience of the 14-year-old child described in the message has not been verified, the core information is factual. Mold that can form in old pancake mix and other foodstuffs can indeed cause a serious allergic reaction. As the message claims, in one documented case, a 19-year-old man died of anaphylaxis after eating pancakes made from an old pancake mix that contained mold.

Thus, the warning is valid. Moreover, it should be noted that mold forms on many different types of food, not just pancake mix. As well as causing allergic reactions, mold can sometimes produce poisonous substances called “mycotoxins,” that can cause illness. Also, “root” threads of mould can penetrate deep into the food and may be difficult to see. Dangerous mold related substances might be present throughout the food, even when mold is only visible on the surface.

Pancake mix and similar products that have been stored for some time should be thoroughly examined before use and consumers should take careful note of use-by dates. Since mould spores can be transported via air, water, or insects, this is especially true if the food has been stored in a non-airtight container or a packet that has been previously opened. Mix that seems a little dubious should be discarded, as the risk of allergic reactions or illness is not worth the few cents saved. Also, if food seems to have an unexpected or unusual taste (or if children complain that it “tastes funny”), consumers should thoroughly re-examine the food before eating any more.

The United States Food Safety Inspection Service has published a fact sheet that provides more information about molds and food safety.

An unusual case of anaphylaxis. Mold in pancake mix.

Importance Notice

After considerable thought and with an ache in my heart, I have decided that the time has come to close down the Hoax-Slayer website.

These days, the site does not generate enough revenue to cover expenses, and I do not have the financial resources to sustain it going forward.

Moreover, I now work long hours in a full-time and physically taxing job, so maintaining and managing the website and publishing new material has become difficult for me.

And finally, after 18 years of writing about scams and hoaxes, I feel that it is time for me to take my fingers off the keyboard and focus on other projects and pastimes.

When I first started Hoax-Slayer, I never dreamed that I would still be working on the project all these years later or that it would become such an important part of my life. It's been a fantastic and engaging experience and one that I will always treasure.

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A Big Thank You

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I would especially like to thank David White for his tireless contribution to the Hoax-Slayer Facebook Page over many years. David's support has been invaluable, and I can not thank him enough.

Closing Date

Hoax-Slayer will still be around for a few weeks while I wind things down. The site will go offline on May 31, 2021. While I will not be publishing any new posts, you can still access existing material on the site until the date of closure.

Thank you, one and all!

Brett Christensen,