Danger lurks in every corner of the foodieverse. From fish that can poison you to crabs that you need to risk your life to catch, there are any number of ways to die in the food industry. Whilst we can all take precautions to protect ourselves from a few of the more obvious threats, danger has a way of sneaking up on us when we least expect it. This may come as a shock, but there are several surprising ways that everyday food could be about to kill you. Approach this list with caution.
A staple in African and South American diets, cassava (also known as manioc and tapioca) can be mashed, boiled or roasted before being eaten in a number of delicious dishes. However, anyone preparing the root needs to take extra care, as if eaten raw, both the flesh and leaves contain cyanide, which has been known to kill unlucky diners.
Though it might look as though every bag of cashews is served raw, there is in fact a precise and essential process that each nut has to go through before being eaten. All the nuts that we buy have been boiled or steamed to remove the deadly chemical urushiol, which is found in every cashew in its purest form.
A favourite of foragers and anyone who enjoys a glass of cordial, elderberries are absolutely delicious when ripe and correctly cooked. Anyone unfortunate enough to attempt to digest an unripe fruit is in for a shock. Elderberry leaves and twigs contain high levels of cyanide and a fruit picked before its time can cause diarrhea and seizures.
4. Red Kidney Beans
Despite being a key ingredient in any self respecting chilli, kidney beans have a dark secret at their heart. Containing high levels of the toxic chemical phytohaemagglutinin, it’s essential that the innocent looking beans be boiled for at least 10 minutes before consumption. If cooked insufficiently, the toxicity can actually become multiplied, making matters even worse.
Nothing says comfort like a proper rhubarb crumble. You’d just better pray that the chef was sensible enough to avoid putting any leaves in it. Rich in oxalic acid, anyone eating anything other than the stalk could suffer from nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and bloody urine, all caused by crystals forming in the kidneys.
Though the bright orange flesh is both delicious and healthy, apricot seeds can pack a lethal punch. Rich in cyanogenic glycosides, which convert to cyanide when ingested, the seeds have proved a major problem for residents of Turkey - several of whom have died after over indulging in their favourite fruit.
7. Hot Dogs
It’s not always hidden toxins that can turn food deadly. Despite its status as an American cultural icon, the humble hot dog actually represents a huge choking hazard, particularly for young children. Across America last year, around 17% of choking deaths in kids aged between 1-10 were caused by hot dogs.
We would love to say that you can relax around your favourite foods. After all, no one wants to sit down to a staple, only to find that it might end up killing them. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like that. Be on your guard, and for God’s sake go slowly on the hot dogs.