Are you an adventurous eater? Here are 7 dishes that can kill you

Jelisa Castrodale

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Earlier this year, a group of 30-plus scientists published a paper suggesting that octopuses were basically aliens, and that they might’ve arrived on Earth after a meteor filled with frozen octopus eggs crashed somewhere on this planet. The result from the greater scientific community was a collective WTF.


“To be truthful, this paper seems to be so badly written and full of misleading statements that I cannot believe that it passed peer-review in any respectable journal,” Stanford University William Gilly told Popular Science. (He also asked if the article was part of an April Fool’s issue). PopSci did what it could to debunk the alien theory, while highlighting some of the cephalopod’s most gloriously weird – but decidedly terrestrial – features. For example, an octopus’ brain is found in its arms.

“This decentralized way of thinking means that even severed arms can ‘think’ for themselves, or at least respond to physical stimuli and try to escape whatever is trying to eat them, which is why people die from trying to swallow live octopus arms.” That’s right: every year, around six people choke to death while eating a South Korean delicacy called sannakji. The dish consists of a small octopus which is chopped and served quickly, so its arms are still writhing and wriggling when they’re put on a diner’s plate.

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San-nakji (octopus hoe) - korean raw fish �� At San Hae Jin Mi Korean Seafood and BBQ restaurant (no tag) but a pretty popular location amongst korean expats, particularly for hoe, which is not commonly found in Singapore. The live octopuses were chopped alive right before serving and tossed with sesame oil and seeds. The tentacles were still squirming due to nerve activity, which made for a pretty interesting mouthfeel but was definitely not as extreme as I expected though the suction cups did grab on to the sides of my mouth at times. Tasted fresh, slightly sweet and a little less chewy than it's Japanese counterpart (tako), also was a little slimey. Taste wasn't amazing but worth a try just for namesake. #asia #travel #singapore #hoe #sashimi #korea #sannakji #octopus #tako #liveoctopus #wtf #foodie #mukbang #yummy #dinner #lunch #foodporn #foodpics #food #foodblogger #foodgasm #picoftheday #likeforlike #followforfollow #tagsforlike #instafood #photography #extreme

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So yeah, sannakji is one of the more dangerous (and possibly least appetizing) foods that you can eat. Here are six more entrees that could kill you if you’re not careful. Bon appétit!


The most well-known potentially poisonous food is fugu, a preparation of pufferfish or porcupine fish that must be served by trained and licensed chefs. (Oh sure, you can fix it at home, but there’s a good chance that meal will end poorly – like with your funeral). Certain parts of the fish, including its ovaries, liver and intestines, contain an often-lethal neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin. When consumed, the poison affects the nerves that control breathing, so you slowly suffocate – assuming it doesn’t induce heart failure first. “There is no antidote and treatment is to support breathing artificially until the body excretes the toxin naturally,” The Guardian warns. No thank you.


“My father sent me to pick out a wife,” an old Jamaican riddle says. “He told me only to take the ones that smile, for the ones that do not smile will kill me.” That’s sound advice when you’re looking for a spouse – but it’s actually a guideline for picking a non-poisonous ackee. The national fruit of Jamaica can be toxic if it isn’t ripe, and smart ackee shoppers know to wait until the fruit’s skin splits open, revealing that “smile.” Those who are unlucky enough to eat unripe ackee can develop the descriptively named Jamaican Vomiting Sickness which, in rare and extreme cases, can be fatal.

Casu Marzu

The good news is that this Sardinian cheese can’t be imported into the United States. The bad news is every word that you’re about to read. Casu Marzu is an Italian sheep’s milk cheese that is put outside to ripen so that it can attract cheese flies. These little nasties lay their eggs on the cheese and, when those bouncing baby maggots hatch, they eat the cheese and, in turn, introduce enzymes that help it to ferment. According to the now-terrifying website I Love Cheese, Casu Marzu aficionados know to wear eye protection when they eat it, so those still lively maggots don’t jump into their eyes. (If the maggots on the cheese are dead, the cheese is considered unfit to eat. It’s good to have standards). Unsurprisingly, those maggots are the dangerous part: if they don’t die during the digestive process, they could make homes for themselves in the intestinal tract and happily chew holes in those internal organs. You’re welcome!

Koi Pla

This traditional Thai meal of finely chopped raw fish can be so deadly, doctors in the country have been traveling to rural areas to try to convince residents to stop eating it. The issue isn’t with the fish itself, but with a parasitic flatworm that it often carries; this particular liver fluke can cause an aggressive – and ultimately fatal – form of liver cancer. More than 20,000 Thais die from liver cancer every year, and Isaan – the province where Koi Pla is most prevalent – has more reported cases of cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) than anywhere else in the world. “It’s a very big health burden around here,” Dr. Narong Khuntikeo told Agence France-Presse.“But nobody knows about this because they die quietly, like leaves falling from a tree.” Khuntikeo would know: both of his parents died from bile duct cancer.


Last month, the English-language Egypt Independent newspaper published an article called “Tips to Safely Eat Fesikh,” reminding Egyptians that they need to be cautious when eating this traditional dish. (It is served to celebrate Sham el-Nessim, the national holiday that marks the first day of Spring). Fesikh is grey mullet that is dried in the sun, then placed into a vat of salt water for several months. “The end result,” BBC explains, “Is a seemingly inconspicuous fish on the outside with a grey-tinged, gooey centre that reeks with a particular all-encompassing stench.” But if it isn’t fermented correctly, it can cause deadly botulism poisoning. In 1991, 18 people died after eating fesikh, and every year, Egypt’s Ministry of Health and Population warns against serving the dish.

Hot dogs

 If you’re surprised to see hot dogs on this list, then you probably don’t have a toddler. Hot dogs are the top cause of food-related choking in children under the age of three, and they can be so dangerous to kids, an increasing number of children’s hospitals are removing them from their patient cafeterias. “Every food poses a choking risk in young kids but the hot dog has just the right size and consistency to perfectly block the airway, Dr. Nisha Kapadia, a pediatrician at Johns Hopkins Children’s said. “It’s the perfect plug that doesn’t allow any air to get through.” So maybe stick to, like, dry Cheerios and yogurt until your kids are...16 or so?


Jelisa Castrodale

About Jelisa Castrodale

Read more about Jelisa Castrodale here.


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