Can something taste so good that you would risk your life to try it? There are some weird and wonderful foods loved around the world which are so dangerous, eating them could probably constitute an extreme sport.
These foods can make you very sick, or could even kill you. And not just the sort of slow death from eating fatty foods that clog your arteries. Rather, many of these foods can kill you with just one bite. Some are carriers of deadly diseases and bacteria, while others contain deadly poisons and toxins.
Some of these foods have even been outlawed in certain parts of the world, because of how potentially dangerous they could be to humans if eaten. Most of these foods are safe to eat if the proper cooking or preparation methods are implemented, but failing to follow proper guidelines for their consumption could result in a violent end to your life.
All of these foods have resulted in a few deaths, and some have resulted in many. You might even have eaten one of these foods without realizing it could have killed you. Would you try any of these potentially fatal foods?
There are few foods as comforting as a nice piece of rhubarb pie. If you enjoy eating this popular garden staple, though, make sure you only eat the stems – because the leaves can prove to be lethal.
The leaves contain a chemical known as oxalic acid, which is poisonous to humans. This was a particular problem during the First World War when the leaves were a recommended food source in Britain. However, you would have to eat a lot of rhubarb leaves to die from oxalic acid poisoning. If you accidentally eat rhubarb leaves, you’re likely to experience symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and a burning sensation in your mouth. You could even have difficulty breathing or lapse into a coma. Don’t risk it, and stick with the stems.
If you don’t cook certain parts of Cassava properly you risk being poisoned. Cassava contains a toxin called linamarin, which will be converted into cyanide in a person’s digestive system if he or she consumes the plant raw.
The roots, leaves and peel contain this potentially dangerous compound. To prepare the plant for consumption it is typically soaked and fermented, then cooked. However, even cooking them to drastically reduce the amount of potentially deadly chemicals in the plant doesn’t make them completely safe.
In southwestern Nigeria it has been reported that regular consumption of cassava has caused people to develop endemic goiters. Another disease associated with eating cassava is kwashiorkor, which is the bloating of the stomach caused by malnutrition. Cassava is typically eaten in areas with few other food sources, because it’s so easy to grow as a crop.
8. African bullfrog
In Namibia, it’s common practice to feast on giant African bullfrogs, and nearly every part of these huge amphibians is consumed. However, the practice can lead to serious health issues for some. Eating these frogs before they start breeding can cause humans to be poisoned.
Locals who eat these bullfrogs call the disease it can cause Oshiketakata, and symptoms include a burning sensation in the urethra and even kidney failure. To eliminate the potential of catching the devastating disease, Namibians who eat these frogs line their pots with dry wood from the Omuhongo tree.
It is believed that this wood neutralizes the poison found in the African bullfrog. In the Oshakati and Ongwediva regions of Namibia there is an interesting treatment if one becomes ill from eating African bullfrog: Locals say that urinating on a heated clay pot works wonders for relieving pain and symptoms caused by African bullfrog poisoning.
Ripe ackee fruit is a delicious treat, but unripe ackee fruit can be deadly. It is common in West Africa, Jamaica and the Caribbean. The unripe fruits contain the toxins hypoglycin A and B. The human body converts these toxins into the deadly methyl cyclopropyl acetic acid.
Eating unripe ackee fruit can result in a disease known as Jamaican vomiting sickness, which has symptoms much worse than just vomiting: Severe cases of Jamaican vomiting sickness can lead to profound dehydration, seizures, coma, and even death. Children and the malnourished are particularly susceptible to the disease. In 2001, at least 23 people died and 194 fell ill from ackee poisoning in Jamaica. Most ackee products have been banned from being imported into the United States because of concerns about poisoning from the fruit.
6. Beef brain
Beef heart and liver are on dinner tables almost everywhere around the world, but beef brains are another matter. The consumption of beef brains is not nearly as prevalent as other organs because of the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) – more commonly known as mad cow disease. In fact, some places have even outlawed the consumption of this part of the animal due to the high risk.
Being exposed to BSE can cause variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is essentially the human equivalent of BSE. In 2000, at the height of the mad cow scare, 28 people died from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the United Kingdom. Still, there are some places where eating cow brains is common to this day, despite the panic mad cow disease has caused. In Indonesia, gulai otak – which is a curry made from cattle brains – is served.
5. Raw chicken and beef
No culture holds raw food in such esteem as the Japanese do. Sushi is the national dish of Japan, and many fish and sea creatures are sliced and eaten raw as sashimi. It’s not just creatures from the sea that are eaten raw in Japan though: Basashi, raw horse meat, is popular in Japan, as is gyusashi, which is raw beef.
Yukke is a Korean-inspired dish of raw minced beef that’s eaten in Japan. In 2011, 35 people became ill and many-contracted e-coli. This occurred when beef unsuitable for raw consumption was served in areas of Japan.
As risky as eating these meats raw may be, it pales in comparison to something else the Japanese like to eat raw: chicken. Torisashi is chicken sashimi, and it’s a dish that few westerners would even be able to comprehend. As long as the chicken meat is extremely fresh you’ll be fine, but if you ever eat chicken that’s not suitable for raw consumption you will be playing a potentially deadly game against salmonella bacteria.
4. Blood clams
Blood clams, also known as blood cockles, are a very popular dish in many parts of Asia. They are particularly abundant in waters throughout Southeast Asia, and they get their name because of their blood red appearance.
They have this coloration because of red haemoglobin liquid found inside the shellfish. The clams can be served steamed, boiled or even eaten raw. However, even cooking them isn’t going to reduce your risk of contracting hepatitis A from a tainted clam.
Because of the risk of hepatitis A, many countries have banned the clams from being imported. In 1988, blood clams were the reason for a hepatitis A outbreak in Shanghai. Thirty one people died and more than 300,000 people were infected, according to the Shanghai Daily.
There was a time not so long ago when eating live, small octopus whole was a common practice in South Korea. Today, however, it’s much more likely to find the tiny octopus chopped up before hand and covered in sesame oil and sesame seeds.
This dish is called Sannakji, and it’s a popular food in South Korea that’s enjoyed by many people. The tentacles are still squirming around on your plate when this dish is prepared for you. A choking hazard remains, though, and if you don’t chew this delicacy properly you risk getting one of the suckers stuck in your throat and choking to death. Remember when your mother told you to chew your food properly? Make sure you heed that advice if you are going to partake is this bizarre food on your next trip to Seoul.
2. Duck blood soup
At the height of the H5N1 scare, also known as bird flu, one of the reasons people were dying was because they were eating soup made from duck’s blood.
In Vietnam, duck blood soup is known as tiet canh. This dish consists of little more than raw, congealed duck blood mixed with meat and topped with some cilantro and peanuts. It is extremely difficult for H5N1 to be transmitted to humans through cooked meat, but if you’re eating raw duck blood your chances of getting sick from an infected bird go up exponentially.
Sixty one people in Vietnam contracted bird flu in 2005, and 16 of those died from the illness. This was the worst year for bird flu cases in Vietnam due to the H5N1 virus. In 2004, 20 people died from H5N1 in Vietnam, and 29 contracted the disease.
Fugu has the distinction of being the most dangerous food on the planet, and even Homer Simpson almost died from eating the Japanese delicacy in one classic Simpsons episode.
In real life, however, your chances of actually dying are rare because of the strict standards and huge amount of training that fugu chefs undergo before being allowed to prepare this dish.
The fugu is deadly because of tetrodotoxin poison that is found in the fish, but farm-raised fugu is usually harmless because these fish don’t contain the poison: Many farmers prevent fugu from eating tetrodotoxin-laden bacteria, which makes the fish deadly.
Even wild caught fugu served up in restaurants is usually kept safe, as chefs have the skill required to remove poisonous parts of the fish before serving. The people that die from eating fugu are usually untrained fishermen who try to prepare the fish themselves. Fugu can be served many ways including as sushi, sashimi, karaage or even in nabe. The skin is a welcome addition to a hot cup of sake.
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