Foods That Can Make You Sick Or Kill You

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There’s a tendency to divide food into two groups: good-for-you (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood) and bad-for-you (we’re looking at you, pizza). But then there are the foods that are really bad for you – not just because they’re high in calories or sodium or otherwise unhealthy but because they could possibly make you seriously ill, or even kill you. 

To compile a list of foods you didn’t know could make you sick (or kill you), 24/7 Tempo reviewed articles on the subject from websites of The World Health Organization, The Canadian Institute of Food Safety, The University of Melbourne Scientific Scribbles, CNN, The Atlantic, Web MD, The Daily Meal, Delish, and Men’s Journal.  

Most of the items on our list can be consumed safely if they’re properly prepared or you eat the right parts of them. In many cases, you’d have to eat huge quantities to experience any ill effects. Others might be more problematic, but are so obscure that only the most adventurous epicures would be apt to try a bite – for instance Iceland’s beloved hákarl, or fermented shark. (These are nine vegetables you should never eat raw.)

Perhaps the most fearsome food listed here is fugu, or blowfish, regarded as a great delicacy at sushi bars. Its organs are so poisonous that only expertly trained chefs can prepare it for consumption. And as its name suggests, the death-cap mushroom is pretty lethal, too. 

Some foods are dangerous because they’re particularly susceptible to bacteria that cause food poisoning – chicken being the most salient example. (These restaurant foods are most likely to cause food poisoning.)

Danger can also come from texture, rather than toxic substances. Hot dogs are well-known as a choking hazard; the denseness of peanut butter can cut off a young child’s airway; the jagged edges of bay leaves can perforate the digestive tract.  

Don’t fear these foods, however. Just be careful how you eat them.

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