Ponderings … The 10 Most Dangerous Things You Can Eat

Mary Jo Bellner Swartzberg

10. Blood Clams

Found in Indonesia, these clams receive their name from the extreme amount of hemoglobin in their blood. They have the ability to filter up to 10.5 gallons of water every day. This means that they take in an enormous amount of bacteria and viruses, including Hepatitis A, E, dysentery, and typhoid.

9. Elderberries

Did you know that elderberries can be found in medicinal products and homeopathic remedies? Elderberries are safe to eat unless they are ingested before they are ripe or are improperly cooked, which might cause poisoning.

8. Pufferfish (aka Blowfish)

If not prepared properly, this fish can kill. Blowfish contain tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin which is said to be 200 times deadlier than cyanide. In order to be able to prepare pufferfish, a Japanese sushi chef must undergo three years of licensing and training. Death is certain if the tiniest amount of tetrodotoxin finds its way onto the pufferfish.

7. African Bullfrogs

Frog legs are a delicacy around the world. In some areas of Africa, the whole frog is consumed. The entire African bullfrog contains harmful toxins, which may lead to kidney failure or even death.

6. Nomura’s Jellyfish

This jellyfish can grow to 6 feet in length and can weigh 440 pounds. Considered a delicacy in Japan, eating the jellyfish meat is not toxic as long as you do not eat the wrong parts. A chef must cook the jellyfish thoroughly; otherwise, a venom could enter one’s body, which would lead to a painful death.

5. Cashews

Did you know that raw cashews should not be put in your mouth? Raw cashews contain the chemical urushiol. It is a chemical similar to that which can be found in poison sumac and poison ivy. Eating raw cashews may lead to death.

4. Kæster Hákarl

This is a traditional dish—fermented shark meat—that is served in Iceland. Many of us have had shark meat, but this fermented shark can be deadly to eat. The shark species from which this shark is fermented lacks kidney and urinary tracts, resulting in uric acid and trimethylamine oxide toxins filtering through its skin. However, if prepared correctly, this dish is safe to eat.

3. Ackee

Recall the words, “Ackee Rice and the Fish are Nice,” from

Jamaican Farewell? Ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica, contains a poison called hypoglycin, which can make a person very sick with severe vomiting, or a person can die from eating it. The unripe fruit, as well as the rinds and seeds, are not safe to eat.

2. Live Octopus

San-nakji is a Korean dish, which is live baby octopus. It contains no toxins, but the octopus is prepared by cooking it in oil. The tentacles wriggle and violently jerk about, suggesting that the octopus is still alive. When people eat the wriggling tentacles, they “crawl” up the backs of throats, which can block a person’s airway and suffocate them.

1. Cassava

This is a root found in the tropics, and it is from where tapioca comes. Eating the plant is safe unless it is eaten when it is still raw. The cassava root contains a toxin called linamarin, which, when entering the body, converts to cyanide.