Eat Me: Foods to Die For


Cute little guy, isn’t he? That Blowfish up there?

Well, Blowfish poisoning sent seven people to the hospital in Japan this week. Erm, not so cute. A drop of poison, called tetrodotoxin, from this delicacy can paralyze and kill a person. Blowfish poison is found in the roe, ovaries and the liver of the fish. It takes years to train in cutting the Fugu, as it is called in Japan. Just ask this guy. A slip of the knife and it’s your last meal…

But blowfish aren’t the only fatal foods. Here are some of the deadliest:

  • Live Octopus or San Nak Ji (in Korean): Live octopus is super popular in Korea and Japan. Though not “poisonous” per se, their little suctiony arms can stick to throats and choke victims, causing an average of six deaths a year in South Korea. The live baby octopus is cut up into bite-size pieces and immediately served, usually with sesame oil. The tentacles squirm until you chew them to death. Sounds pretty metal, right?
  • Fruit Seeds: Apple seeds. Cherry stones. The kernels in apricot, nectarine, peach and plums pits. All contain cyanide. If consumed in large quantities, it deprives cells of oxygen and eventually shuts down the heart and brain, causing respiratory failure and death. Children can kick it from eating just 15 apricot kernels at a time. Though, this shouldn’t be an issue, cuz who’s eating these things?
  • Cassava: If not properly washed or cooked, the leaves and roots of cassava contain cyanide. But pound the roots and leaves into flour, soak and dry it, and the cyanide gas escapes.  500 million people rely on cassava for their calorie intake and it is used to make tapioca and protein-rich cakes. Recent news suggests cassava might be making its healthy snack introduction stateside. Because our snack food isn’t already trying to kill us.
  • Mushrooms: Death Cap mushrooms, often confused for the Paddy Straw, contain over seven toxins and one bite can kill you. Other killer not-so-fun-gis are the Gyomitra (often confused for Morrel) and the aptly named Destroying Angels, and Deadly Webcap.  Most mushroom poisoning causes nausea, diarrhea, hallucination or kidney failure.
  • Ackee Fruit: Originally from West Africa, Ackee fruit is  used in Jamaican cuisine like the national delicacy, “ackee and saltfish.” The fruit is poisonous if it is both immature or overripe. The only edible part is the flesh around the seeds, the rest has a toxin called hypoglycin which can be fatal.


By the Numbers:

500: million people rely on cassava as a food staple

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