As we all know, the importance of food preparation is crucial. Rinsing off fruits and veggies is a common practice to clean off pesticides, and cooking raw meat thoroughly is hugely important. But what about when food prep is a matter of life and death? Most of us have probably heard of fugu, or the pufferfish, which is an extremely poisonous seafood if not prepared in exactly the right way. In fact hundreds die from eating poorly prepared fugu each year. Frighteningly enough, there are more than a few foods like the fugu, which can kill when not prepared correctly. So today, we bring you 10 foods that can turn deadly if not prepared just right.
It’s a little known fact, but honey is actually filled with poisonous toxins. Honey goes through a pasteurization process after being farmed to eliminate these toxins, but unpasteurized honey is extremely dangerous. Eating just a teaspoon of unpasteurized honey, or honey that did not go through the pasteurization process correctly, can lead to headaches, dizziness, weakness and vomiting that can last up to 24 hours. It is possible that more than one teaspoon can kill.
This fruit native to Jamaica is an island favorite — in fact, the ackee is the national fruit of Jamaica! However, this beloved fruit can become one of the world’s deadliest foods if not prepared correctly. First of all, only the yellow parts of the ackee should be consumed, and those yellow bits have to be cooked just right for the fruit to be edible. Even more important when preparing the ackee is timing. Eating even a bite of the fruit when it’s too ripe or not ripe enough can result in “Jamaican vomiting sickness,” which causes seizures and fatal hypoglycemia.
This root veggie is cultivated in South America and can be quite delicious if prepared correctly. If prepared incorrectly or eaten raw, however, cassava has this funny little tendency to turn into hydrogen cyanide. There are two varieties of cassava, sweet and bitter, and the sweet is 50 times less deadly with only 20 mg of cyanide per root. But even this less dangerous version, if consumed twice, is enough to kill an adult cow on the spot.
While this one sounds a little exotic, elderberries are pretty commonly used in jams, wines, and teas. Which is unfortunate, because their seeds and leaves contain fatal levels of cyanide-producing glycoside. If the fruit is not strained correctly or is too unripe when used to make your jam or wine, you could be looking at severe nausea and potential coma, or even death. It takes only a cup of incorrectly prepared elderberry juice, wine, or tea to result in mild sickness, but you would have to drink up to five glasses to be in life threatening danger.
When you see “raw cashews” at the store, know that they are lying to you. Those store cashews are actually steamed to remove a chemical called urushiol, which is also found in poison ivy if that helps paint a picture. Consuming actual raw cashews can prove fatal, especially for people with an allergy to poison ivy. So if you’ve ever seen cashews in nature for some weird reason… it’s not trail mix, don’t eat them. Depending on your sensitivity to poison ivy, as little as a handful of raw cashews could be extremely dangerous to the average consumer.
This is a friendly reminder to monitor how much strawberry rhubarb pie you eat this summer. Why? Well, rhubarb leaves, which you are not supposed to include in baking or cooking, contain oxalic acid, which causes kidney stones. It would take 11 pounds of leaves to kill you, but much less than that in your rhubarb pie to make you very sick.
You may have heard that potatoes, if not consumed at the right time, can be dangerous. You heard correctly. The leaves, stem, and sprouts of a potato contain Glycoalkaloids, which are also found in nightshade. If you leave a potato in bad conditions (as in too moist or bright, or you just let them sit out for too long) they will begin to sprout. It’s suggested to throw these potatoes away, even if you do cut off the sprouts, as the poison may be in the potato if too much time has passed. Scientists claim that a 100 pound person would have to eat 16 oz. of a sprouted potato to get ill, which is approximately one baked potato.
This one sounds a bit weird to us, but it’s an African specialty, especially in the country of Namibia. The danger comes from selecting which bullfrogs to eat, as they have to be mature enough. Younger bullfrogs who have not yet mated carry a poison that causes kidney failure. If a chef prepares a bullfrog too young, it can cause severe illness and sometimes death.
Red Kidney Beans
While eating raw foods is considered a healthy thing, there are some very unhealthy consequences for eating certain foods raw. One such food is the red kidney bean. Red kidney beans contain toxins called lectins, which essentially kill the cells in your stomach. Not so good. The only way to enjoy red kidney beans without this harmful toxin is by preparing them just right; soaking the beans in water for at least five hours before consumption. Otherwise, eating as much as a half a cup of raw red kidney beans can make you seriously ill.
The Silver Stripe Blaasop
This Indian Ocean delicacy must be prepared with great caution. One tip-off that this fish is bad news? It’s a cousin to the fugu, the infamously poisonous puffer fish. The skin, liver, and reproductive organs of the Silver Stripe Blaasop are all fatally poisonous, so the chef must be extremely careful to prepare the fish without any traces of these organs. Consuming a poorly prepared Silver Stripe Blaasop can result in fatal muscle paralysis and breathing problems. Ten people worldwide have already died from eating Blaasop that was prepared incorrectly.