Unhealthy foods aren’t the only ones to avoid when you’re doing your weekly shop or scanning the menu at a restaurant. In fact, every day foods that many people wouldn’t think twice about eating can make you terribly sick or even cause your death.
There are a bunch of well-known foods out there that can result in extreme illness or even death if not prepared properly and eaten in just the right way. Even excessive kitchen cleaning and hygiene may not help you avoid the risks of some of the world’s most dangerous foods.
So what should we be on the look out for? Well, in many cases, common foods that form part of a regular, healthy diet can be up there among the most dangerous. Many people wouldn’t think twice before chowing down on some lettuce, eggs, tomatoes and the like – but they’re all on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of top 10 risky foods. The FDA doesn’t recommend people avoid the foods on their list; they just make sure people are aware of how to properly prepare them and minimize their chances of falling prey to some gross bacteria lurking in the background.
This list takes a look at some of the most dangerous foods on the planet. Thankfully, food poisoning is very rare when you consider how much food we eat every day, but nonetheless, eat these 10 foods at your own risk!
10. Rhubarb – Steer Clear of the Leaves
Rhubarb has a dark side despite being a popular sweet pie filler (thanks to the extra “kick” it adds). When too many rhubarb leaves are eaten, a person can be left poisoned due to the toxins they contain. For this reason, it’s recommended to strictly eat only the rhubarb stalk and leave raw rhubarb leaves for the trash can.
9. Peanuts – Linked to Many Deaths
As depressing as it is, eating peanuts can be deadly if you’re one of the unlucky 1% of people in the USA who is allergic. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that eating peanuts is the most common cause of death due to food allergy. The bad news is that peanut allergies are on the rise – between the years 1997 and 2002 the number of children who had peanut allergy incidents doubled according to Time magazine.
8. Ackee Fruit – Causes Vomiting Sickness
It may form the key ingredient in Jamaica’s national dish (ackee with codfish) but it’s unfortunately loaded with danger too. The ackee fruit, which is found in Jamaica, can cause the Jamaican Vomiting Sickness if it’s eaten in the wrong way. You have to be sure to wait until the fruit is fully ripe then eat the yellow arilli only. The toxic black seeds need to be avoided, and eating an unripe ackee fruit can eventually lead to coma or death.
7. Hot Dogs – A Choking Hazard For Kids
In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out and said that hot dogs can be a choking hazard for children and that they should have a warning label on their packaging. They even said that perhaps hotdogs should be redesigned to help kids eat them – but we presume that suggestion was quietly ignored by the industry. How exactly does one redesign the shape of a classic hotdog? The Academy’s research showed that almost 20% of food-related choking by children aged under 10 were caused by hot dogs.
6. Tuna – High Level of Mercury
It’s one of the most popular fish around the world but that doesn’t mean it comes without its risks. In 2004, the US government warned pregnant women and young kids against eating the white variety of tuna because of high mercury levels that could impact the developing nervous system. There’s also the risk of Scombroid, a type of food poisoning that can come about if you don’t refrigerate fish like tuna properly.
5. Mushrooms – A Deadly Veggie
Yes, they’re a vegetable (well, fungus) but wild mushrooms can be poisonous and fatal. As well as the well-known hallucinogenic properties found in many mushrooms that you might find in the garden, some can leave you much worse off. Of course you won’t find any labels on foods that you find outside but dangerous varieties include Deadly Webcap and Death Cap.
4. Eggs – Bacteria Lurking Within
Eggs are a staple in nearly every household in North America – and around the world too. However, according to Health.com, eggs are commonly linked to outbreaks of Salmonella bacteria which can “lurk inside the egg” and come out to play if the eggs aren’t handled with caution. For this reason, proper cooking and refrigeration is very important and people should avoid anything that contains raw egg (including cookie dough and the classic Pisco Sour cocktail unfortunately).
3. Oysters – Can Cause Norovirus
It’s an expensive, sought-after seafood delicacy but it can lead to severe illness if not handled properly. Before being fished and served up at fancy restaurants, oysters sit on the floor of the ocean and filter feed. If the water they’re filtering is contaminated in any way, then the oysters will be too. They can also be contaminated during the handling and cooking process too. For example, if they are raw (or undercooked) they can cause norovirus – which involves nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
2. Coffee – Caution, It’s Hot!
It’s that drink that many people feel they couldn’t live without, but it’s also laden with several risks. Not to mention the teeth discoloration, sleepless nights and dehydration it causes, coffee can cause some serious burn damage. If you spill it on your skin, or even in your lap, you could be in line for some third-degree burns. Remember the New Mexico grandma who sued McDonald’s in the early 1990s after she was severely burnt after spilling a cup? McDonald’s went on to add clearer warning labels and even brew its coffee at a lower temperature.
1. Kale & Leafy Greens – Covered in Germs
Kale may be one of the most popular greens on the block at the moment, but it’s up there among the riskiest foods you can eat. In fact all leafy greens (such as lettuce, cabbage, spinach and arugula) are considered the most dangerous food that is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration in the USA. They accounted for the most food-borne illness outbreaks in the country and can contain contaminants such as E. coli and salmonella. Perhaps your mom told you it was good for you, but it’s definitely not if it hasn’t been washed in clean water and treated well before it ends up on your plate.