5 Dangerous Foods from Around the World


by Alejandra "Alex" Ruani — Get free science updates here.

So far in this InstaHealth series, we’ve been breaking down food labels, and giving you the low-down on what they mean and how they differ between nations.

But it’s not just different labels that you might see when you visit different countries around the world.

Foods around the world

You’ll see all kinds of weird and wonderful local delicacies. It’s always worth broadening your horizons and trying something new… Most of the time!

But there are a few foods you might want to be a little more careful with.

In this InstaHealth, we’ll take a look at 5 “dangerous” foods that you might see on your travels.

The first stop on our world tour is Japan, where you can savour some of the finest seafood on earth…

1.Fugu (Pufferfish)

Ever heard of fugu?

This dish is made from pufferfish (so named because it swells up like a balloon) and is regarded as a delicacy in Japan.

But many pufferfish organs contain a toxin capable of inducing paralysis and even death…

Fortunately, Japanese chefs are specially trained over many years to ensure that the fish is toxin-free when served.

But this doesn’t mean there’s zero risk!

2. Echizen Kurage (Nomura’s Jellyfish)

Before we print off our boarding pass and leave Japan, there’s another potentially risky food that you may want to steer clear of.

This is a type of jellyfish called echizen kurage (also known as Nomura’s jellyfish) that the Japanese love.

These jellyfish don’t just sting when they’re alive, they’re also toxic to eat.

The dish has to be carefully cleaned and properly cooked, otherwise it can retain some of these nasty toxins.

3. Sannakji (Baby Octopuses)

Now we’re heading a few hundred miles west, to South Korea.

In South Korea, you may find a dish of freshly killed octopuses on the menu (sannakji). These are often referred to as “baby octopuses”, though they aren’t actually babies, they’re just a smaller species.

You’ll be pleased to hear that these aren’t in the least bit poisonous.

So, what’s the danger?

Well, these octopuses are freshly killed and eaten raw.

Although they’re dead, the tentacles can still move and grip…

Eating this dish requires courage as the octopus tentacles will try to stick to your tongue and throat when you chew it.

This could result in choking

4. Casu Marzu (Putrid Cheese)

Now, let’s leave Asia and make our way to the beautiful Italian island of Sardinia.

Casu marzu is regarded as the world’s most dangerous cheese.

Why?

Because it contains live maggots (fly larvae).

Eating this cheese can introduce live maggots to your stomach, which could have serious intestinal implications.

Not to mention, the larvae may even be able to “jump” and get in your eyes!

This might be why the EU has banned the sale of this cheese, making it super tough to find outside Sardinia itself… But if you fancy buying a rotting cheese on the black market, then this is the dish for you!

5. Ackee Fruit

Ackee is a fruit commonly consumed on the island of Jamaica (though it is also native to West Africa).

But it’s banned from sale as a whole fruit in the US.

Why? Because if it’s not perfectly ripe, it can be extremely poisonous!

Unripe ackee fruit contain toxins known as hypoglycins. These can bind to vital energy generating molecules in our body and cause the glucose in our blood to become used up.

This can lead to serious vomiting and even death.

Are You Better Off Staying Home?

Although you may not be keen to try these foods, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy travelling and trying new things!

Plus, are we really safe from toxins in our own homes? How might we be exposed to toxins in our everyday lives and is there anything we can do about it? You can download the curriculum for our fact-packed, advanced training here.

 

 

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The-Health-Sciences-Academy-Alejandra-Ruani-small1-right Alejandra "Alex" Ruani leads the research division at The Health Sciences Academy, where she and her team make sense of complex scientific literature and translate it into easy-to-understand practical concepts for their students. She is a Harvard-trained scientist and UCL doctoral researcher who specialises in cravings and appetite neurobiology, nutrition biochemistry, and nutrigenomics. Besides investigating and teaching the latest advances in health and nutrition science, Alex makes it easier to be smarter with her free Science Catch-ups.

Connect with Alex via email.


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