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Here's a pearl of wisdom: Sniff after you shuck, and swallow only when you're certain. Of the riskiest foods regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, raw oysters rank high for their outbreak-causing potential. The two pathogens wreaking the most havoc are Norovirus (which can cause gastroenteritis) and Vibrio, a bacterium related to cholera that can cause fever, septic shock, blistering skin lesions, and even fatal septicemia.
With the common name "vegetable brain" and a pedigree to boot—this lychee relative is the national fruit of Jamaica—you'd think ackee would be an all-around crowd-pleaser. But the pear-shaped pods of this West African tree can deliver a deadly bite if eaten prior to ripening. It's a beachside buzz kill to come down with Jamaican vomiting sickness and seizures; death, a very real risk, is the ultimate vacation wrecker. The solution: Patience. To enjoy this delicious and nutritious produce, it's essential to wait until the fruit turns bright red and its spongy flesh peels away from the toxic black seeds within. Then, boil it up, season appropriately, and serve with saltfish. Voila: It's Jamaica's national dish.
Pollution caused by industrial waste gave rise to the methylmercury-related illnesses, including development deficits in children, that have placed tuna—tuna steaks and canned tuna—on many no-no lists. But pathogens such as scombrotoxin, brought on by improper handling of fresh fish, sicken hundreds of people each year. Symptoms run the gamut from headaches to diarrhea and even loss of vision. The safest solution: Keep your fish cool and only eat at reputable restaurants.
Suction cups are not typically on the American menu, but in Korea, the consumption of live baby octopus tentacles is considered a hoe (raw dish) delicacy. Although removed from the body, sliced into bite-size bits and dressed with sesame oil and sesame seeds, the squirming tentacles have a way of sticking around—in your throat—thanks to still-active suction cups, which present a choking hazard. The safest solution is to chew it 100 times before swallowing. And don’t talk with your mouth full.
Truffle hunting in Tuscany sounds like an idyllic way to spend a holiday. But beware: While there's good fungus among us, the tasty porcini has some poisonous cousins. Even when their names spell certain doom—death cap, destroying angels, among them—look-alike mushrooms can create a toxic menace. Is that a morel you're eating or a highly poisonous Gyromitra? A delicious chanterelle or an evil jack o'lantern (pictured here)? The poisonous galerina or the hallucinogenic psilocybe? You'd better know exactly what you're looking for, because many mushrooms are decidedly not magical.
Kidney beans contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which will make you extremely ill and in some rare cases has killed. The beans MUST be boiled for 10 minutes before cooking, and that includes slow cooking. These beans become five times more toxic when heated to the temperatures used in slow cooking than they are when raw, so never just add them to a stew or chili without boiling them first. Better yet, use canned kidney beans. Only a few will land you in hospital wishing you had died. A few more and there is no wishing about it.
Cherries, apricots, peaches and plums contain cyanogenic glycosides that creates cyanide in the pits. Swallowing a pit or two is not going to have much effect - our bodies will deal with a certain amount of cyanide but it is more dangerous if you chew them. This makes children particularly vulnerable, especially if they get into a full bowl and don't de-pit the fruit. Some people die every year (not just children) from eating too many pits, but you do have to work at it. For most of us, one or two is not a problem.
If you are an adventurous gardener, be aware that rhubarb leaves are not the healthy bitter green you might assume. There is a reason that rhubarb sold in your grocery store is sold without its leaves. Rhubarb leaves contain dangerously high levels of oxalic acid which can cause serious kidney damage potentially leading to death. Even though a 140 pound person would need to eat about 10 pounds of rhubarb leaves to die, a small amount still has the ability to make a person sick. When you're making a salad with fresh greens from your garden, steer clear of rhubarb leaves.
One of the most consumed carbohydrates in the world, cassava, contains naturally occurring cyanogenic glycosides. Also known as yucca, this starchy tuber must always be dried, soaked, and cooked properly. In Africa, improperly processed cassava is a major problem and is associated with a number health disorders, particularly among people who are already malnourished. The toxin is primarily found in the leaves which protects it from being eaten by insects or animals, but the roots still contain a significant amount of natural poison and long-term exposure to this raw food can lead to deadly consequences. The proper processing of cassava includes drying, soaking in water, rinsing or cooking very soon after it is harvested.
While the greens of the common garden-variety of carrot aren't quite as deadly as that of the wild carrot, some still regard them as toxic due to the presence of both alkaloids and nitrates in the greens. While many report the greens leaving a bitter taste in the mouth, others experience some of the side effects of exposure to alkaloids or nitrates. These include a burning sensation in the mouth and throat, increased heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, agitation and possibly even death.
Originally posted by csimon
I love to eat raw oysters at my favorite seafood restaurant. My wife always tries to discourage it since it is so risky.
I do not eat them in the warm months (any month which includes an R).