Sometimes when particularly hungry, or impressed with a dish, we describe it as “to die for”. Unfortunately, there is a wide variety of foods which can kill you if prepared incorrectly.
Some of the dangerous foods that made this list are delicacies from around the world, but some – like the humble egg – are often overlooked dangers.
Mushrooms are an essential component of many dishes, from chicken masala, or cooked breakfast, to mushroom risotto.
Yet not every species of the fungi is safe to eat. Death Cap, False Morel, or Fools mushroom are among several species that can poison humans and cause sudden symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and extreme thirst.
Small-dose poisonings are usually treatable, but ingesting large doses of toxic mushrooms can lead to irreversible liver, kidney, cardiac, and muscle damage, that may ultimately result in death.
When it comes to eating seafood, most people are squeamish at the idea of killing a lobster, but in Korea, some seafood dishes are served up with the creature still moving!
Sannakji, or “live baby octopus” has a bizarre method of preparation. The living tentacles are chopped up and then seasoned before being served immediately to the customer. This is to ensure that the octopus' tentacles continue to writhe on the plate.
Although this curiosity may be what makes Sannakji such an entertaining specialty, it is also what causes a number of deaths in Korea each year.
The suction pads on the tentacles maintain suction after being severed, and the customer has the challenge of chewing the tentacles before they stick to the roof of the mouth.
If this is not done successfully, the tentacles stick to the mouth and throat and can actually cause the customer to choke to death, – and there lies the danger in this equally dangerous, and curious dish.
We all know that some berries — like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries — are good for you, and some are even classed as “super foods”. However not all berries are quite as well intentioned.
Take the yew for example – a tree commonly found in British churches and garden hedges. Although the sweet red pulp is generally safe, its seeds contain alkaloids that can cause muscle tremors, convulsions, coldness and eventually heart failure.
In Shanghai, China blood clams are eaten as a delicacy. The name comes as from their unappetising bloody appearance. What they lack in style is apparently made up for in taste. However before you eat these please remember that the dish can cause typhoid or hepatitis.
These are just a few of the nasty bacteria and viruses lurking inside their shells – but like many of the foods in this list, it all comes down to preparation. Unfortunately, there have been many occasions in Shanghai where an establishment’s ineffective method of ensuring safety – by quick boiling the clams – has got them in trouble with the local authorities.
Quick boiling doesn’t go anywhere near far enough in killing the deadly diseases they may contain before consumption. So unless you like being bathroom bound for quite some time, it’s probably best to stay away from these clams, as sometimes no amount of boiling can rid them of these bacteria.
Japan has an even more dangerous foodstuff than their Chinese neighbours – an expensive delicacy called Fugu (blowfish), which contains the deadly poison known as tetrodotoxin.
Even cooking cannot get rid of its potent toxicity; tetrodotoxin leads to a painful paralysis. The toxin is so powerful that a dosage of 2-3mg is enough to kill a healthy adult. The poison is normally found in the internal organs, but can also be in the flesh, so only highly trained chefs are legally allowed to prepare this dish.
If unlucky enough to experience a lethal dose of tetrodotoxin, the effects include the numbing of the mouth and fingers, followed by speech deterioration, difficulty breathing and finally the whole body succumbs to paralysis, which causes the person to lose consciousness and die.
Peanuts are a common ingredient in snacks, main dishes, and desserts, but they can cause allergic reactions in many people.
The most severe response is anaphylaxis, which is treated at first with a quick epinephrine injection. Since anaphylaxis can lead to severe constriction of the airways, shock, and even loss of consciousness, it is dangerous enough to cause death if left untreated.
Enjoying the pear-shaped fruit ackee — the national fruit of Jamaica — can be tricky: It must be allowed to fully ripen before harvesting and prepared properly to be safe to eat.
Ackee contains toxins that suppress the body’s ability to release glucose, unbalancing your blood sugar levels, and potentially leading to a variety of side effects – or even death.
Due to its dangerous side effects Importation of the raw ackee fruit is banned in the U.S.
Another hazardous dish belongs to the country of Namibia in Africa. The Giant Namibian Bullfrog is a delicacy that many locals enjoy feasting upon - just like in France, where frog legs are a popular delicacy. The only difference is Namibians prefer to eat not just the legs, but the whole frog itself- and bullfrogs can be poisonous.
The deadly risks come from when frog is eaten at the wrong time of year, or before it begins croaking. The poisons present in its body can cause fatal kidney failure. Those who do choose to risk their lives by eating the frogs prematurely must take measures to ensure that they do not consume the poison.
This includes lining their cooking pots with dry wood, which supposedly neutralises the poison and prevents a distressing and unpleasant death.
Casu Marzu is a cheese that originates from the island of Sardinia.
The dish, however, is far from pleasant and was actually banned by the EU because of the health risks associated with it. The name Casu Marzu translates to rotten cheese.
There are many types of rotten or mouldy cheese enjoyed around the world but this type of cheese actually contains thousands of live maggots! The cheese is deliberately left outside in the heat in order for festering cheese flies to lay their eggs inside. This results in a maggot-ridden cheese dish. In order for this recipe to be eaten, the maggots have to remain living or else the locals will even tell you that it is too toxic to eat.
The maggots still remain dangerous even when alive, however, as they can cause allergic reactions and even lead to intestinal larval infection. If the maggots survive in the stomach, they could eventually feed their way into the intestinal walls, causing horrendous stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhoea or even death.
Raw meat — including red meat, poultry, and seafood — and uncooked eggs can contain salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella can cause gastroenteritis in humans, although salmonella poisoning itself is not life threatening, it can lead to serious complications, such as bacteraemia (when salmonella enters the bloodstream) and that can be life-threatening to those with weaker immunities.
To avoid salmonella you should exercise good hygiene when preparing meat, and ensure any poultry is cooked before serving. Pregnant women should also not eat uncooked egg.