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People need food to survive, and for many, eating is one of life’s greatest joys. However, certain foods contain deadly toxins or pose a choking hazard so serious that they should come with a warning label. The top five deadliest foods include those you’re probably familiar with, and some exotic dishes you might never have heard of.
5 Raw Unpasteurized Milk
Unpasteurized milk sounds like something natural and good for you, right? It’s not. Drinking raw, unpasteurized milk or eating products made with it can kill you. The pasteurization process removes pathogens like salmonella, escherichia and brucella, which are bacteria that can cause severe illness and death. Raw milk and milk products may taste delicious, but is diarrhea so bad that you have to be hospitalized worth the temporary tastebud joy?
The Korean dish called sannakji, which is essentially an oily heap of wriggling octopus tentacles, is served in Korean restaurants in North America as a delicacy. It’s made by cutting up live octopus, adding some seasoning and oil, and plopping it on a plate just for you. Let’s repeat: The tentacles are still wriggling when you eat them. Sannakji is not poisonous, but the suction cups on the tentacles can stick to your throat if you don’t pulverize them while chewing. Are you nauseous yet? If you don’t chew really well and manage to swallow those tentacles without your gag reflex kicking in, the suction cups can attach to the sides of your throat — and you could die from asphyxiation.
3 Leafy Greens
According to “Time” magazine, leafy greens such as spinach, cabbage, kale and lettuce were listed as the riskiest foods of 2009 by the FDA-regulated Center for Science in the Public Interest. Deaths linked to eating leafy greens were often caused by a pathogen called nirovirus, which is spread by sick food handlers or those people who feel up the produce at the store. Other contaminants in leafy greens include E. coli and salmonella, which are often introduced during production, when the plants come in contact with animal manure, contaminated water or animals. Tasty.
With names like “death cap” and “destroying angel,” are you really surprised that mushrooms are lethal? Not all but some mushrooms are extremely poisonous, but because Mother Nature doesn’t do warning labels, folks die from eating unidentified mushrooms found in their yards or on wilderness treks. The solution? Listen to your mother and don’t eat stuff off the ground. If you insist on collecting mushrooms, identify them before you pig out. The three most dangerous groups include amanitas, false morels and a group of various species referred to as LBMs, for little brown mushrooms. Amanitas species, which includes the destroying angel mushroom, cause 90 percent of mushroom-related deaths in the United States each year. Symptoms of mushroom poisoning may not show up for more than 12 hours. Some symptoms hit then go away for a while, but the toxins remain in your body, striking just when you think you have dodged the fungal bullet.
1 Fugu Blowfish
Expert chefs slice fugu blowfish into paper-thin slices and charge an arm and a leg to serve death to you on a pretty plate. A single fugu fish has enough poison in it to kill 30 people. Seriously, fugu, which is also known as puffer fish, contains tetrodotoxin, which is a potent poison that causes paralysis and death. This toxin is found in the intestines, ovaries and liver of the fish, and is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide. A lethal dose of this stuff is smaller than the head of a pin. Chefs have to obtain a license to prepare fugu so that none of the toxic parts contaminate the flesh that is edible during its preparation. Despite all of these risks, about 10,000 tons of the fish are consumed by daredevil diners every year. Let’s just hope that the expert preparing your fugu isn’t having one of those accident-filled days where he makes a tiny but deadly mistake.