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4 Dangerous Foods to Avoid in the Kitchen

Experienced chefs or novice cooks alike should steer clear of certain foods. While they may sound intimidating, if not handled carefully, these substances could prove fatal if left unchecked.

Take, for example, the Japanese delicacy fugu, which can be deadly if prepared incorrectly. Or bitter almonds which contain toxic cyanide when eaten raw.


Fugu is a delicacy in Japan, yet its toxic tetrodotoxin makes it even more toxic than cyanide. Because of this, chefs with special licenses for handling fugu must prepare it safely.

The fugu, also known as blowfish, is a type of pufferfish found throughout the Pacific Ocean and its surrounding waters. This highly adaptable animal can hover, swim backwards and change directions quickly.

It has a pear-shaped body and pectoral fin used for propulsion. This species can withstand extreme temperatures while possessing spines to defend itself against predators.

Fungus can grow up to six feet long and weigh around 450 pounds, making them a large, muscular fish that has been revered for centuries.

Fugu is a unique type of fish with some distinct characteristics that set it apart. These include its resistance to salt and remarkable capacity to absorb and release water.

Fugu is not only an excellent source of protein, but it is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Plus, some studies claim to contain the antioxidant lutein which may protect eyesight and enhance cognitive functioning.

Fish is commonly eaten raw or sashimi. It may also be served with other ingredients like seaweed and citrus juices.

However, it is best to avoid eating the liver and ovaries since these parts contain lethal amounts of tetrodotoxin. Fugu’s tetrodotoxin content is higher than cyanide and can cause a rapid and violent reaction with victims feeling numb around their mouth and unable to speak; they may even experience paralysis before succumbing.

Chefs in Japan must undergo extensive training before being authorized to prepare fugu. This includes a three-year apprenticeship followed by an examination, which tests their competence and safety for customers.

According to Japan’s health ministry, there have been 21 deaths caused by fugu poisoning since 2000. Most victims are anglers who consume fish without proper preparation.

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Restaurants and retailers must label fugu with their license number to protect customers’ safety. In fact, it’s illegal to sell unprepared fugu. A single packet of contaminated fugu can kill someone within four to eight hours, so be sure to inspect the labels for authenticity.

Cherry pits

Cherry fruit pits can be extremely hazardous if accidentally swallowed. The cyanide they contain deprives your body of oxygen, making them highly toxic. Furthermore, eating too many of them will damage heart and kidneys in large amounts.

Cherry pits can be toxic due to the compound amygdalin, which reacts with enzymes in your saliva to form hydrogen cyanide. According to MedicineNet, this chemical is released only when you crush or chew on the pit; however, when one single cherry pit is consumed there is little risk of exposure.

Cherries are an excellent source of antioxidants, which can protect cells and shield your body against disease. Furthermore, they reduce uric acid levels and may have anti-inflammatory effects.

It is best to avoid cherry pits, as they can present a serious choking hazard for both children and adults alike. To prevent this, keep them out of reach and teach kids how to spit out the pits after eating them.

In general, cherries contain small amounts of cyanide that can be detoxified by your body in small doses. However, this does not mean you should consume an abundance of them without any detrimental effects; your body only has a tolerance limit of 50 mg of cyanide before becoming toxic.

If you have consumed a significant amount of cherries, you may experience mild symptoms such as dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting and anxiety. In such cases, seek medical assistance immediately.

It is especially essential if you have small children, as they are more vulnerable to the toxic effects of cherry pits. If you believe your child has swallowed one, give them a drink of water to flush out any toxins from their system.

It’s also wise to avoid adding too many cherry pits into your smoothie. Otherwise, your drink could contain more than 20 pits, which are highly toxic.

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Sannakji is an iconic dish from South Korea that uses live octopus that’s chopped and served quickly on a plate, its arms still wriggling and sucking on your plate as you consume them. While this dish may seem fun for adventurous palates, be warned: swallowing an unchewable live octopus could prove fatal.

The tentacles of an octopus possess suction pads that can latch onto your throat, potentially leading to choking. As such, those who consume sannakji should chew each bite thoroughly before swallowing them in order to prevent this risk.

If you’re thinking of trying sannakji, it is essential to go with an experienced chef. Doing so will increase the likelihood that you won’t choke on the octopus and become sick.

Another potential risk is the octopus’ arms are intelligent. According to Food & Wine, live octopuses possess neurons in their extremities which can respond physically to physical stimuli like hands and feet. Therefore, when you eat sannakji, the octopus becomes aware of your presence and may try to latch onto your throat in an effort to defend itself.

Some people have choked to death on sannakji because they didn’t chew their pieces correctly or swallowed the entire octopus at once. This occurs because when served, the arms of an octopus may still be wriggling and squirming and their suction cups could latch onto your throat or neck.

However, if you take time to chew each sannakji piece by piece and consume it slowly, this shouldn’t be an issue. Additionally, drinking soju, the rice-based Korean alcohol, with your meal can aid digestion of the octopus better and reduce its stickiness.

In New York, several restaurants are serving sannakji. This has caused some controversy and PETA has filed complaints against two Thornhill eateries that serve it, along with receiving many calls from concerned individuals about animal cruelty practices.

If you’re a fan of Korean cuisine, don’t hesitate to try sannakji. This delectable delicacy is enjoyed by locals in Seoul and it’s sure to please any palate.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans are a nutritional powerhouse in many parts of the world, offering protein, minerals and fibre for your diet. Not only that but they’re high in folate, iron, phosphorus and potassium too – not to mention anthocyanins which act as anti-oxidants.

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These legumes are an excellent source of dietary fibre and low in fat. Furthermore, they boast high amounts of magnesium and copper which make them beneficial for heart health. Furthermore, legumes have been known to aid weight loss by lowering cholesterol levels in the blood.

However, it’s essential to cook kidney beans properly as raw or undercooked can lead to serious food poisoning. The primary toxin found in raw kidney beans is phytohaemagglutinin, which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea within two to three hours after consumption.

Thankfully, soaking red kidney beans before cooking helps reduce the risk of food poisoning caused by phytohaemagglutinin. Soaking kidney beans for at least five hours or overnight helps remove this lectin from the beans and helps eliminate its potential hazards.

It is advised to avoid eating kidney beans if you are under the age of twelve, pregnant or breastfeeding, or have a history of gastrointestinal problems like stomach ulcers. Additionally, kidney beans should not be eaten at any time during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Kidney beans can be highly toxic due to their high level of phytohaemagglutinin, a toxin which affects cell metabolism in animals such as pigs, rats and humans. This toxin is measured in hemagglutinating units (hau), with raw beans containing up to 70,000 hau; after cooking however, these numbers drop dramatically to under 400 hau.

Another toxin that may lead to food poisoning is phytic acid. This binds with essential minerals in beans and prevents their absorption by your body. Soaking and cooking kidney beans properly eliminates this toxin as well as any other antinutrients present.

Soaking kidney beans before cooking not only enhances their flavor, but it also contains soluble fibre which helps prevent constipation, lowers cholesterol levels and promotes gut health. You can enjoy these soaked kidney beans straight out of the jar or add them to salads and casseroles for extra nutrition and benefits.