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The Most Dangerous Foods in the World

11/6/17 by Samantha Larson

Eating is something we do every day, and often without giving it much thought. While most of our meals wouldn’t win any awards on the Food Network, they do the trick when it comes to filling our bellies and fueling our bodies. But if a meal is bad—or even dangerous—eating can suddenly become a horrible experience. And one of the deadliest.

From some of the most ordinary foods you could find in an American kitchen (think rhubarb and chicken) to some of the most exotic from around the world (including squirming octopus and live cheesy maggots), here is our menu featuring nine of the world’s deadliest dishes. Get ready to pick your poison.

1. Death Cap Mushrooms

“Death” is even in the name of this plant.
“Death” is even in the name of this plant. Bernard Spragg. NZ

The name says it all. Death cap mushroom closely resemble straw mushrooms and Caesar’s mushrooms, both of which are edible—but these suckers have a toxin that is deadly to humans.

While they’re native to Europe, death caps can now be found on all continents except Antarctica and are responsible for more than 90 percent of mushroom deaths worldwide. Last winter, death caps poisonedat least 14 foragers in Northern California alone. Turns out some fungi aren’t much fun after all.

2. Pufferfish (Fugu)

The pufferfish needs to be prepared very carefully in order to be safe to eat.
The pufferfish needs to be prepared very carefully in order to be safe to eat. Tambako The Jaguar

Pufferfish (fugu) is considered a delicacy in Japan. But if we’ve learned anything fromThe Simpsons, it’s that if you feel compelled to experiment with this cultural cuisine, proceed with caution. Pufferfish requires careful preparation in order to be eaten safely.

In fact, most chefs who serve the dish have spentfour to six years training how to carefully remove the pufferfish’s skin, intestines, eyes, kidneys, ovaries, and liver—because if they get it wrong, it could be their guest’s last supper. These parts of the fish contain tetrodotoxin, a poison that can cause your body to shut down, resulting in a violent and sudden death.

3. Rhubarb

The Rhubarb stalk is often found cooked in pies, but the leaves are poisonous.
The Rhubarb stalk is often found cooked in pies, but the leaves are poisonous. Cory Doctorow

We all know that rhubarb stalks make some of the most delicious pies. But rhubarb leaves? That’s an entirely different story. Rhubarb leaves contain an unhealthy dose of oxalic acid, which can be poisonous. While you would have to eat an awful lot of rhubarb leaves to do serious damage, you could experiencesymptoms like difficulty breathing, nausea, or eye pain. So go ahead and eat your dessert. But if rhubarb’s on the menu, this is your excuse to skip the salad.

4. Chicken

Salmonella is a serious disease carried by chickens.
Salmonella is a serious disease carried by chickens. Andri Koolme

It’s one of the most common foods to appear on menus across the world. But chicken is also one of the world’s deadliest: like other poultry, eggs, and raw milk, undercooked chicken can give you salmonella, a type of diarrheal disease that collectively kill 230,000 people each year. You can avoid contamination by thoroughly cleaning your hands and any surfaces that the raw meat touched and by completely cooking any chicken product before eating.

5. Ackee

Don’t take a bite out of this fruit until it has fully ripened.
Don’t take a bite out of this fruit until it has fully ripened. Phillip Taylor

Ackee is a fruit common in West Africa and the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica, where people like it so much it is anational symbol. But you won’t find ackee in an American grocery store. Not because its buttery texture and savory flavor don’t appeal to the U.S. palate, but because it’sconsidered to be too dangerous. Before ackee fully ripens, the fruit contains high levels of hypoglycin A and B, compounds that can cause nausea, vomiting, or even, seizures, comas or death.

6. Shellfish

Shellfish can have toxins, or possibly worse, actually get stuck in your throat if you eat them whole.
Shellfish can have toxins, or possibly worse, actually get stuck in your throat if you eat them whole. T.Tseng

Seafood lovers know oysters, mussels, and clams as delicious. But get a bad one, and your night could end up in calamity. As filter feeders, shellfish suck up whatever’s in the water around them. Sometimes that water contains toxins produced by algae—and if you eat a bivalve that had bad algae for breakfast, you could end up with an unpleasant night at best or, at worst, amnesia or paralysis.

And don’t forget about oysters on the half shell - they can get stuck in your throat if you try to swallow them whole. (Tip: It’s actually okay to chew them a couple times before they go down.)

7. Sannakji

This dish is still moving when it’s served.
This dish is still moving when it’s served. Herry Lawford

Sannakji is octopus that’s served very fresh. Sannakji is plated immediately after the creature is killed and cut into pieces and the octopus’ nerves are still active. Expect some wriggling around when you chomp down and swallow. This makes the squigglies difficult to eat, which causes a few choking deaths every year.

8. Cassava

Try cassava if you are South America. Just not raw.
Try cassava if you are South America. Just not raw. CIAT

Cassava, or yuca, is a common root vegetable native to South America. Similar to potatoes, cassava is a wonder food that is nutritious, delicious, and filling. But cassava also has a dark side.

If you eat it raw—or even if you eat too much of it cooked—you put yourself at risk of cyanide poisoning, which can have possibly fatal impacts including an impaired thyroid, nerve function, and paralysis.

9. Casu Marzu

This cheese is so dangerous it’s actually illegal in the EU.
This cheese is so dangerous it’s actually illegal in the EU. Shardan

This is a stinky sheep’s milk cheese that has traditionally been made in Sardinia for centuries. But this isn’t your run-0f-the-mill cheddar: Casu Marzu is actually infested with live maggots. The cheesemaker leaves it out so that it becomes infested with the larvae. If the bugs are already dead, it’s supposed to be a sign that the cheese has gone bad.

If you don’t chew the live bugs up enough, however, the maggots can wreak havoc on your intestines. Because of the risks, Casu Marzu is now banned in Sardinia—but if you really have a craving for it, you can still sniff some out.

Eating good food is one of the joys of being alive. But one bad bite of the foods on this list could be anywhere from mildly unpleasant to downright dangerous. The lesson here? Choose your meals wisely!

Originally written by RootsRated for ExOfficio.