20 Dangerous & Deadly Foods People Around The World Still Eat

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With the strange but interesting popularity of mukbang shows, where viewers tune into watch hosts binge-eat different foods, from the familiar to the most disgusting, people are more and more willing to take risks with their diets.

But unhealthy eating and consuming unfamiliar food is dangerous and can lead to weight gain, heart problems and diabetes. Not to mention, 1 in 6 Americans get food poisoning every year.

Several streamers and influencers like Sun Yixuan and Taylor Claydorm are just a few examples of people who perished early in food-related deaths.

But outside of overeating, the CDC says that 3,000 people in the U.S. die from foodborne illness every year. Another 5,000 choke to death. But those statistics do little to stop people from experimenting with dangerous cuisine and exotic delicacies.

Why do people consume deadly foods?

There are many reasons a person might eat a food that has been deemed dangerous. One of the most common reasons is clout.

Think of things like the Ghost Pepper Challenge or eating contests. These people are looking for notoriety and are willing to risk their health to get it.

Another reason is culture or tradition. These individuals come from backgrounds where the risky foods have been consumed generation after generation and believe they can be eaten safely.

The most important catalyst that leads one to eat food that may not be safe is food insecurity or poverty. People without access to healthy foods are forced to take what they can to keep from starving.

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20 of the World’s Most Dangerous Foods

When considering the most dangerous foods in the world, we all know about the usual suspects — raw meat, unpasteurized dairy products or raw milk, peanuts, tree nuts, and hot dogs.

But there are several more that you might want to avoid if you enjoy living.

1. Ackee Fruit

Ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica and cannot be consumed unless it is ripe. Before it is ripe, it contains a toxin called hypoglycin that causes the Jamaican vomiting sickness, which can leave you in a coma or dead.

2. Sannakji

This Korean cuisine consists of baby octopus tentacles, cut and served immediately. Those tentacles can get stuck in your throat and choke you to death. Six people die from eating this dish every year.

3. Pufferfish

Tetrodotoxin is 1200 times stronger than cyanide and is found in pufferfish, globefish, and toadfish. A single fish can kill up to 30 people. The dish is coveted in Japan, and chefs who serve it must train for years.



4. Cinnamon

It might surprise you to know that cinnamon can be deadly. When eaten by the spoonful, it can result in vomiting, coughing, and collapsed lungs. Still, YouTubers popularized the "Cinnamon Challenge" in an effort to beat the odds.

5. Hot Chilies

We have all seen challenges based around who can eat the world’s hottest peppers. These peppers are 225 times as hot as a regular jalapeno and routinely land contestants in the hospital.

6. Fugu

Don’t be fooled if someone tries to serve you fugu. It is simply the Japanese word for pufferfish. With a lethal dose the size of a pinhead, fugu can paralyze your nervous system and cause respiratory failure.

7. Hákarl

One of the most dangerous foods in Iceland is Hákarl, a Greenland shark meat, cured and hang-dried for 3-5 months. Due to their lack of a urinary tract, waste and toxins filter through their skin and flesh. A few bites can result in convulsions and death.

8. Cassava

Cassava is a tropical root commonly used in tapioca pudding, cakes, and chips. Its roots and leaves produce cyanide, so it has to be properly cooked to reduce toxins prior to ingestion.

9. Rhubarb Leaves

Rhubarb may look harmless, but its leaves contain oxalic acid, a poison that is fatal in large doses. Outside of death, consuming it can cause kidney stones, difficulty breathing, and red or foul-smelling urine.

10. Elderberry

Elderberries, native to Canada, are safe to eat when properly prepared. But their bark and leaves have a chemical called cyanogenic glycoside that can induce vomiting, nausea and diarrhea. If eaten in large quantities, it can lead to seizures, comas, or even death.

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11. Raw Red Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are full of protein and fiber. But in their raw form, they contain phytohemagglutinin, a toxic variety of lectin. This can damage your digestive system and prevent nutrient absorption.

12. Cherry Pits

Cherry pits have hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous compound that likely will not result in death unless you consume a whole lot of it. But it can make you ill and should be avoided.

13. Casu Marzu

One of the most stomach-turning cuisines hails from Sardinia. It is a cheese fermented using live maggots that decompose into the cheese. The U.S. government banned Casu Marzu for sanitary and hygienic reasons.

14. Raw Sprouts

Eating raw sprouts is dangerous due to the conditions required to grow them. Because they are produced in humid conditions, germs and bacteria grow uninhibited. This can result in salmonella or E Coli.

15. Shellfish

Approximately 2% of the population will have an allergic reaction to shellfish. But that’s not the only reason to avoid shellfish. They absorb harmful bacteria and microbes from the sea and, if undercooked, these organisms can be detrimental to humans.

16. Green Potatoes

Whether or not unripe green potatoes are poisonous is up for debate. What is known is that they contain a toxin called solanine, which can cause very serious sickness in large quantities.

17. Bitter Almonds/Cashews

Raw bitter almonds are rife with cyanide. In order to remove it, they need a full heat treatment. So, the bags you purchase at your local grocery store are safe, but be cautious with eating unprocessed almonds or cashews.

18. Starfruit

Starfruit's pretty appearance belies a hidden danger. They contain a neurotoxin called caramboxin that our kidneys filter out when we eat them.

If you have kidney disease, starfruit can be deadly. Once it reaches the brain, it can cause vomiting, weakness and confusion, and can even end in seizure, coma, or death.

19. Pear or Apple Seeds

Besides cherries, pears and apples also have poisonous seeds that, when digested, turn into cyanide. These predigested compounds, nitrilosides, are dangerous in high concentrations.

20. Wild Mushrooms

Mushrooms found in the wild can lead to serious injury or death. It’s hard to figure out which ones are safe to eat, and which are hazardous. But picking the wrong ones can cause abdominal pain and cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, liver damage, or death.

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.