25 Foods That Can Make You Sick or Kill You

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Green or sprouted potatoes
> Principal danger: Solanine, glycoalkaloids

As potatoes age, they develop a toxin called solanine, which turns them bitter and can lead to nausea and sometimes serious neurological problems. Other naturally occurring toxins in potatoes, called glycoalkaloids, grow strongest in the sprouts and eyes. Glycoalkaloids can be particularly problematic for infants and young children, but even in adults can cause acute gastrointestinal problems.

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Hákarl (fermented shark meat)
> Principal danger: Urea, trimethylamine oxide

An Icelandic delicacy, hákarl is the meat of Greenland shark, traditionally prepared by burying it in sand to ferment for months, then air-drying it. The meat can be poisonous if eaten raw because the fish itself contains high quantities of urea and trimethylamine oxide (which can induce severe cardiovascular problems). Theoretically, the preparation process renders the shark harmless – but it acquires such a pungent ammoniated smell that non-Icelanders usually find it impossible to eat.

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Hot dogs
> Principal danger: Choking hazard

Hot dogs are packed with sodium (up to 600 grams in one dog) and contain potentially carcinogenic additives – but they are arguably most dangerous, especially for children, because their size and texture makes them a potential choking hazard.

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> Principal danger: Hypoglycin A, methylene-cyclopropyl-glycine

Lychees are small tropical fruits found in Southeast Asia. Covered by a pinkish-colored skin, the lychee is peeled and its sweet, white flesh eaten. Consumed in small amounts, lychees are not harmful. However, the fruit has reportedly been the cause of brain inflammation cases in Southeast Asia. Scientists aren’t sure why that happens, but it may be due to the presence of the toxin hypoglycin A.

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Peanut butter
> Principal danger: Choking hazard

The American Academy of Pediatrics lists peanut butter as one of the most dangerous choking hazards for children. Although every kid loves it, the thick, sticky substance can be hard for very young children to swallow. Even adults are sometimes advised not to eat spoonfuls straight from the jar for similar reasons.

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