The seven most dangerous foods in the world (that people keep eating)

Desserts

In absolute numbers, the most dangerous foods in the world are those that contain a large amount of sugar, the ingredient that, by itself, causes the most health problems. But the foods we are talking about today kill in another way: they are traditional foods or dishes that, despite being considered delicacies in their countries of origin, contain toxins or parasites that make them potentially lethal.

Either by preserving the tradition, or by sheer unconsciousness - what is the need but to drink raw milk again - many of these foods cause serious illnesses every year, if not the death of those who consume them.

Welcome to the gallery of the serial killers of gastronomy.

1. The puffer fish

The Japanese word fugu It is used to designate the fish of the tetraodontid family, better known as puffer fish or sea porcupines, but also the legendary dish that is prepared with their meat.

He fugu It is very probably the dish eaten on purpose that causes the most instantaneous deaths in the world and is that certain internal organs of these fish, such as the liver, and sometimes the skin, contain tetrodotoxin, a deadly and powerful and fast acting neurotoxin. From 50% to 80% of the victims die between 4 and 24 hours after ingestion.

Only chefs who have undergone rigorous training can serve fish

Despite its danger, the meat of the puffer fish is considered a delicacy in Korea, China and especially Japan. He fugu It has been consumed in the Japanese country for centuries, but currently its commercialization is strictly regulated. Only chefs who have undergone rigorous training aimed at separating the edible parts from those that cannot serve fish.

It is extremely rare to suffer poisoning in a restaurant: most mistakes are made by amateur chefs who prepare fish at home, especially those who dare to eat the liver or do not remove it properly: it is the most toxic part of the fish , whose commercialization has been prohibited since 1984, but is still taken in certain circles, as it is considered the most tasty part.

Between 2006 and 2015, a dozen people died in Japan from using fugu.

2. Casu Marzu

This traditional cheese from the island of Sardinia, whose literal name is “rotten cheese”, is made by deliberately introducing larvae of the cheese fly into the milk, Piphila casei, which produces a more pronounced level of fermentation. The larvae can be seen with the naked eye, as they measure about eight millimeters, and can even jump on the diner.

Its commercialization is prohibited in the European Union, although there are those who continue to manufacture it at home

But having the larvae jump at your face is not the worst thing that can happen. The real problem is that these larvae can survive in the stomach of whoever eats the cheese, which can cause severe diarrhea. In no case is it a lethal food, but the chances of ending up in the bathroom for several days after consuming it are always high, which is why its commercialization is prohibited in the European Union, although there are those who continue to make it at home and it can be found on the black market.

A group of Sardinian researchers is working on the production of the cheese in a controlled environment that would allow the larvae not to cause intestinal problems and could be re-marketed.

3. Hákarl

He hakarl It is a typical Icelandic cured fish that is prepared by drying the meat of the basking shark. The drying process is long and meticulous since the meat of the fish in question is toxic, due to its high content of urea, an organic compound present in the urine and feces of mammals, which the animal does not eliminate since it lacks a kidney. and urinary tract.

The shark must be washed and cut up well and left to dry for three to six months, during which time it gives off an unpleasant odor, reminiscent of ammonia. It does not taste very good either, and those who are not used to it have to eat it holding their nose. Those who have tried it say that first it tastes like a mixture between rotten fish and blue cheese and then leaves an aftertaste of urine. Not surprisingly, it is usually served alongside a shot of brandy.

The only good news is that most of it is currently prepared at the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum, which has a perfectly timed curing process whereby all toxins are removed.

4. Sannakji

This traditional Korean dish is only suitable for the bravest stomachs. It is a plate of raw food that is prepared with the nakji, a small octopusOctopus minor) endemic to the shores of the Korean Sea that is cut alive into pieces and served on the spot with oil and sesame seeds. Sometimes it is even served whole.

Chunks of the poor animal keep wriggling on the plate while diners enjoy it, and here's the danger: Since the octopus's suction cups are still active, the chunks can stick to the mouth or throat with the potential to suffocate individuals. People accustomed to eating it know that octopus should always be chewed well in the mouth before swallowing, but there are those who do not and the result is worthy of a story by H. P. Lovecraft.

Although serious cases are rare today, some have died from eating this dish and each year someone ends up in hospital.

5. African frog

The African frogPyxicephalus adspersus) spans much of the African continent. Its meat is highly appreciated, especially in Namibia, where it is usually eaten whole. The fact that in other parts of the world only the haunches are consumed is no accident. The organs and skin of this and many other frogs contain a wide variety of substances toxic to humans, causing liver failure.

The locals usually consume them after the "third rain" in the area, something that seems to make no sense, but also once the creatures have finished mating, something that does, since young frogs, which have not yet have reproduced, they are the ones that accumulate more toxins.

6. Blood clams

Blood clamsGrainy tegillarca), named for the reddish color of their meat, are found on the coasts of much of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, in South Africa, Australia, Southeast Asia, Polynesia and Japan. They live mainly one or two meters from the water, buried in sand and mud. This low-oxygen environment forces them to ingest viruses and bacteria to get the nutrients they need. We are talking about pathogens that cause diseases such as hepatitis A, hepatitis E, typhoid fever or dysentery.

The bivalve was responsible for an outbreak of hepatitis A in 1988 in which 31 people died

These clams are considered a delicacy in China and the problem is that, if they are not cooked well, they can transmit the aforementioned diseases. Specifically, in Shanghai they are usually prepared with a very fast boil, which sometimes does not eliminate pathogens. The bivalve was responsible for an outbreak of hepatitis A in 1988 that affected 300,000 people in Shanghai. 31 people died. Since then its sale has been prohibited, although there are those who continue to eat it at their own risk.

These should not be confused with the Callista chione, which is also known as "blood clam" and which is usually found in depths close to two hundred meters from certain shores of the Mediterranean. This food is consumed specifically in Ceuta and Malaga, where they are also known as malagueñas or thin-shell clams. And interestingly, they can also be toxic. These clams often contain those known as diarrheal or paralyzing toxins (DSP and PSP, for its acronym in English), because they feed by filtration of dinoflagellates from red tides or polluted waters such as stagnant water, water fecal, etc. Their capture, however, is well regulated, and when the presence of these toxins is detected, their commercialization is stopped.

7. Nomura jellyfish

This jellyfish (Nemopilema nomura) is found in the seas around Japan, where it is known as Echizen kurage. It is the largest of its kind: it can measure 3.5 meters and weigh up to 220 kilos. Its reproduction has increased notably since 2000 and it has gone from being a rare animal to being a real problem for fishermen in Japan, as it destroys their nets.

In Japan all kinds of jellyfish are eaten, and given the increase in the presence of this species, their meat has begun to be eaten. But there is a problem: as in most jellyfish some parts are highly toxic, and must be well removed before cooking. Nor can it be taken raw.

Images | iStock / Alex Berger / Steven G. Johnson / Niu Fisheries Cooperative

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