Our expert says:
There is truth in this, but its often overblown.
In 2001, two pathologists practicing in the US reported on an unnamed 19-year-old who died in such a manner. While home on vacation, the victim, a young man with a history of allergies (including mold), ate two pancakes made from a packaged mix that had sat open in a kitchen cabinet for about two years — even though his two friends stopped eating their portions, complaining about the taste. Very quickly thereafter, while watching television, the victim experienced shortness of breath that was not relieved by his inhaler. He asked his friends to take him to a clinic not far from the home, and he was reported to have turned a bit blue from lack of oxygen during the ride. While he did manage to walk into the clinic on his own, once inside he suddenly collapsed in cardiopulmonary arrest. He failed to respond to resuscitative efforts and was pronounced dead.
The cause of his death was determined to be anaphylaxis due to an allergic reaction to molds.
It needs be kept in mind there is nothing inherently toxic about cake mixes that has passed its freshness date; the product's getting old does not transform it into a poison, nor does the growth of mold within opened boxes of flapjack powder turn it into something that will kill all who ingest it. Only those who have allergies to mold are at risk, and even then, for the cake mix to pose a hazard it has to contain mold spores, not just be over the hill.
What does all this mean? If you don't have a mold allergy, you needn't fear your cake mix!
Bennett, Allan and Kim Collins. "An Unusual Case of Anaphylaxis: Mold in Pancake Mix." American Journal of Forensic Medicine & Pathology. September 2001 (pp. 292-295).
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