Foods That Can Make You Sick Or Kill You

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Ackee
> Principal danger: Hypoglycin alkaloid toxins

Native to tropical West Africa, ackee was brought to Jamaica – where it is now considered the national fruit – by Captain William Bligh of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame (its scientific name is Blighia sapida). When fully ripened and cooked properly, ackee is safe to eat – but the unripe fruit contains poisonous hypoglycin, which can cause convulsions and even death. Even if it’s cooked, unripe ackee can be deadly — as can the water it’s cooked in.

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Barracuda
> Principal danger: Ciguatoxin

Yes, you can eat a barracuda – that is, if it doesn’t eat your first. In Florida, barracuda is a popular fish to catch and eat. Just be sure to cook up only the smaller fish; any one more than about three-and-a-half feet in length may contain a concentration of ciguatoxin, which can cause a wide variety of symptoms including numbness and nausea and can affect heart rhythm and body temperature.

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Bay leaves
> Principal danger: Sharp edges

Even watch cooking shows and wonder why the chef always takes the bay leaves out of the sauce or soup before serving? Although the essential oils in bay leaves add flavor and aren’t toxic to humans, their jagged edges that make them harmful to swallow.

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Cassava
> Principal danger: Cyanogenic glucosides, releasing hydrogen cyanide

An edible tuberous root, cassava is typically ground into flour. However, because it contains cyanogenic glucosides, cassava must be detoxified by soaking, drying, and scraping before being eaten to prevent potentially fatal cyanide poisoning.

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Casu marzu
> Principal danger: Live maggots

Everybody loves cheese, right? But casu marzu may not be to everyone’s taste, except in Sardinia, where the locals love this cheese – once tagged the “world’s most dangerous” because it’s filled with live maggots, which digest the milk proteins turning the cheese creamy and soft. Unfortunately, ingesting any of the maggots could result in myiasis, tiny holes in the intestine caused by maggot bites..

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