Deadly Tastes


Not all the food we consume is safe. This is no news flash; we all know that some foods are very unhealthy and can lead to health problems, but we eat it anyway to satisfy our taste buds. Some foods have high risks of causing problems, while others can be deadly if improperly prepared. So what foods are we talking about that can be so dangerous? Here are some examples:

1) Japanese Fish

In Japan, a fish called Fugu, also known as blowfish, is considered a delicacy. This fish contains lethal doses of tetrodotoxin and is said to be 1,000 times more poisonous than cyanide; one gram of Fugu poison is enough to kill 500 people. The poison leads to your muscles to freeze up, and will keep you from breathing. Yet, people in Japan consume 10,000 tons  of this fish per year.

Chefs in Japan must undergo at least two years of training as apprentices, all the while practicing how to cut through the fish properly and how to prepare it in a safe fashion. The meat of the fish is cut paper-thin and eaten. Many people prize the dish not for its taste but for its high-risk, however, it has been known to be the last meal of some unfortunate souls.

2) Namibian Bullfrogs

In Namibia, giant bullfrogs are a part of the culinary tradition, and are eaten in their entirety, except for the alimentary canal. The danger from eating this animal, is if it was caught young and consumed. A premature bullfrog that has not bred yet, carries a poison that can lead to temporary kidney failure, and if not treated can lead to death.

3) Jamaican Ackee Fruit

The Ackee fruit and plant originated in Africa, and then made its way to Jamaica. It is related to the lychee and the longan trees, and is a very much loved fruit in Jamaica, and is added extensively in Caribbean cuisine. This popular fruit however, has a dark side, literally. The risk arising from the large black seeds inside the fruit, which contain the poison hypoglycin. If consumed it can cause severe vomiting, which can lead to a coma or even death. To enjoy this fruit with no risk attached, it is crucial to wait until the fruit turns bright red and its spongy flesh peels away from the toxic black seeds within. It is then ready for safe eating.

4) Italian Asu Marzu Cheese

We have all heard about well-aged cheese, but what about cheese that is ridden with thousands of maggots? A cheese so dangerous, that it has been made illegal by the EU. Well, this cheese is Casu Marzu. This Italian cheese is left out in the open for days to encourage flies to lay eggs inside it. When the eggs hatch maggots emerge and eat some of the cheese which speeds the fermentation process. This cheese is seen as a local delicacy in Sardinia, and the locals still produce and eat it. The danger comes if maggots survive inside the human body because they could eventually feed their way into the intestinal walls leading to horrendous stomach pains, sessions of vomiting, bloody diarrhea and even death.


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SCIplanet is a bilingual edutainment science magazine published by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Planetarium Science Center and developed by the Cultural Outreach Publications Unit ...
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