Is a Banana With a Black Center Safe to Eat?

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Life is full of nasty surprises and eating a spoiled fruit is one of the nastiest of all.

If you’ve inadvertently taken a bite out of a banana with a black center then you’re probably wondering what’s the black string in the middle of it.

The hard brown center found in some bananas is typically caused by a fungus called Nigrospora. However, there are a few other possible causes that can also lead to banana black center syndrome such as moko disease.

In this article, I’ll explore each cause in detail and provide you with all the answers you need.

Why does your banana have a black center?

Eating spoiled bananas can lead to all sorts of unpleasant reactions such as nausea, vomiting, and even food poisoning.

Therefore, properly identifying the underlying reason can offer you a source of relief and arm you with the proper knowledge to deal with the problem.

Having said that here are the 3 reasons that lead to a banana being black in the middle:

1. Nigrospora fungus

Nigrospora sphaerica is an airborne fungus that’s found in the soil, air and as a pathogen in the leaf of some plants. It was first identified in 1927 when two scientists managed to isolate fungal cultures from banana plants and sugarcane.

What they found was that banana plants affected with the Nigrospora fungus suffer leaf blight. At first, the leaves turn grayish, but as the fungus colonies grow in number, they eventually turn dark brown until they finally wilt.

Even though Nigrospora is most commonly observed on plant leaves, it can also affect the banana fruit itself.

When this happens, the fungus starts to develop colonies in the center of the banana that are initially white, but shift their color to red, brown, and black as they develop.

In its initial stages, this slightly alters the texture of the banana giving it a slightly drier, bitter taste.

Author’s note: In the past there were false claims that bananas affected with banana black center syndrome contained blood.

However, as the infection reaches its final stages, the center of the banana turns into a black crunchy thing.

Even though it can be found all around the world, the Nigrospora fungus is most prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries.

Since it requires moisture to release its spores, these areas provide the fungus with the ideal conditions to reproduce.

Moreover, it typically affects ripe bananas and plants since they contain more moisture.

Intentionally or not, members of Chiquita Bananas claimed that black banana syndrome was caused by fall damage during handling at distribution centers and supermarkets.

According to them, ripening bananas were prone to this syndrome even if they got dropped from as low as one feet.

Which seems quite convenient if you ask me.

And since I’m quite inquisitive by nature, I gave the benefit of the doubt to these claims and dropped a ripening banana on the floor from three feet. Just in case.

I then left it on my kitchen table and checked up on it the next day.

As you’re probably guessing by now, the only thing this did was bruise the inside of my otherwise perfect banana.

Which I still ate by the way.

2. Moko disease

Moko is a bacterial wilt that affects bananas in a similar fashion to the Nigrospora fungus. There is, however, one very noticeable difference between the two.

Even though moko typically begins from the center of the banana and causes it to rot just like the Nigrospora fungus, it also leads to premature ripening.

Put differently, most bananas affected by moko disease never manage to reach store shelves since they rot before they’re ready for harvest. Nevertheless, it’s still good to know how to tell the difference between both conditions.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

Comparison photos of bananas with signs of the Moko disease and of a banana affected with the Nigrospora fungus

On top: Bananas with the Moko disease by iggypup32; on the bottom: a banana with the Nigrospora fungus by Damn_Canadian

As you can see, the banana infected with the fungus is ripe and has a hard brown center.

3. Blood Disease

Banana Blood disease is a bacterial wilt caused by the Pseudomonas celebensis pathogen that was first described in 1910. It damages the banana plant by invading its vascular tissue which leads to wilt.

SImilarly to moko, Blood Disease typically affects bananas that haven’t ripened and leads to an unusual black discoloration inside of the banana.

However, unlike the first blight on this list, blood disease can be observed all over the fruit body. As you can probably imagine, stumbling on a banana affected by this disease is nigh on impossible.

But who knows what curveball faith might serve you one day.

Can you eat a banana with black center syndrome?

If you’ve accidentally taken a bite out of your banana just to find the horrible truth inside it, then you’re probably worried.

Which is completely understandable, since simply seeing that black part inside it can make your stomach turn.

During my research, I found only one source that claimed eating such bananas don’t pose any threat to human health.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, bananas with a black center syndrome are safe to eat. And this includes bananas infected by the Nigrospora fungus.

However, I personally wouldn’t take any risks eating one since there still isn’t enough information to back these claims.

What are the black spots inside my banana?

Have you ever wondered what the black dots inside your banana are?

Well, so have I and after doing some research I found out why that is.

As bizarre as it may sound, the bananas we eat today were cultivated from wild bananas that have seeds.

A lot of seeds.

Here’s some proof:

A hand holding a peeled banana with seeds

by IgnisNoctum

The same, however, can’t be said about the bananas found at your local supermarket.

Nearly half of the bananas sold around the world come from the Cavendish cultivar. Cavendish bananas as well as most of the other commercially available cultivars were specifically bred to be seedless. So the tiny black spots you see inside your banana are actually immature seeds.

Who would’ve guessed right?

My Conclusion

We as humans are great at detecting potential threats to our health.

And even though some sources claim black center syndrome is harmless, there’s still no conclusive information.

So if your banana has a hard stem inside it or it smells rotten, then it would be best to trust your gut instinct.

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4 thoughts on “Is a Banana With a Black Center Safe to Eat?”

  1. I sometimes find a black vein in the center of bananas. The vein often runs the entire length of the fruit. Last week I had such a banana. Instead of eating it, I split it “lengthwise”. Lo and behold, the entire black vein was visible. And, unfortunately, I found a few very small things that appeared to be tiny bugs. But they might have been seeds? It was difficult to tell what they were because they were roundish, smooth, dark and slimy. The next time I get a banana that has a black vein inside, it’s going in the trash.

  2. It seems all the bananas i buy lately in the uk are black in the centre some very black and uneatable. Im not going to buy anymore as it seems to me there is a problem with bananas today

    • Yes, I’ve found the same thing here in the US and Australia! It seems to be from the Panama fungus that has spread around the world, killing the plants, but I can’t seem to find a clear answer on the safety of eating the banana! If I buy them green, they are still rotting from the center quickly, so I don’t trust eating them anymore. If you find any good information, please share!


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