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10 most dangerous foods in the world — you'll be surprised what's on the list

Popular food products can also be dangerous.

One in ten people suffer from food poisoning every year [Shutterstock]

According to the World Health Organisation, one in ten people suffer from food poisoning every year.

Additionally, 420,000 people die as a result of their reckless consumption. Paradoxically, not only exotic specialities are dangerous, but also popular food products.

The fact that people who have suffered cuts as a result of preparing various dishes go to hospitals and emergency rooms is one thing. This is also a fraction of the health problems that food causes.

There are reasons why we boil potatoes, use rhubarb only at certain times of the year, pasteurise milk, cook meat... Yes, improper food processing can expose us to unwanted viral toxins and dangerous bacteria.

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What foods should we be particularly careful about?

It may surprise you, but it is common knowledge that sprouted seeds of beans, peas, soybeans, mung beans and chickpeas are a popular addition to "healthy cuisine". The changes that occur in plants as they come to life make them a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But that's not all and this is where the dog lies buried.

Sprouts have a dark side: they result from the cultivation process, which involves keeping the seeds at constant humidity and high temperature for up to several days. And this is the best environment for bacteria to grow.

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In the United States alone, between 1996 and 2016, almost 2,500 cases, 187 hospitalisations and three deaths were reported as a result of sprout consumption.

The most common cause of health problems is Salmonella or E. coli bacteria. People with a weakened immune system are therefore advised not to eat raw sprouts at all, and healthy enthusiasts should make sure to rinse their harvest regularly.

The safest way to eat sprouts is to cook them.

It is a very popular dish in Poland. Raw meat. It is, of course, also popular in various parts of the world and prepared in interesting ways. However, it remains an enemy of health. Animal tissues contain parasites and bacteria that can kill us. Other carnivores too.

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Steak tartare, raw beef, is a cause of poisoning due to the presence of salmonella, E. coli or listeria. Staphylococcus aureus and Shigella bacteria, which cause dysentery, have also been found in raw meat.

There is also the so-called larb, a minced meat salad from Laos (an unofficial national dish). In the past, it became famous as a reservoir of Streptococcus suis, a pathogen causing diseases in pigs, and in humans responsible for meningitis and myocarditis.

In 2017, wild boar meat was served at a private party in California, infecting 12 people with the health-threatening trichinosis.

Starchy cassava roots (Manihot esculenta) are one of the key elements of the traditional South American diet. The flour obtained from them, known as tapioca, has gained popularity around the world and is used in baked goods, drinks and desserts.

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However, not everyone knows that cassava roots and leaves contain linamarin and lotaustralin - two very dangerous glucosides. Plants, especially bitter varieties, grown in drought conditions are particularly rich in these toxins.

Improper preparation of cassava can lead to acute poisoning, pancreatitis and ataxia, which makes walking difficult. To make the roots safe to eat, they must be soaked or boiled for a long enough time.

Chilli peppers are also very popular, used as a spice but also as an ingredient in spicy dishes. However, there is a chili pepper with the characteristic name "Dragon's Breath", grown in Wales. It is considered one of the harshest in the world.

On the Scoville scale, it has 2,480,000 SHU, while most hot peppers have 50-100,000 SHU. The burning power is high enough to cause skin numbness. When ingested, unfortunately, it can cause death due to anaphylactic shock or suffocation.

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Raw meat can also endanger brave consumers in other, rather shocking, ways. Sannakji is a Korean speciality prepared from the raw arms of lesser octopus. The traditional recipe calls for the dish to be prepared fresh, by placing freshly cut "tentacles" on a plate, drizzling them with oil and sprinkling them with sesame seeds. As unpleasant as it may sound, the real problem is not resistance, but the activity of the served arms.

After all, octopuses have such a complex nervous system that their tentacles can function even when chopped up. As a result, it has repeatedly happened that the swallowed sannakji will ultimately try to attach itself to the consumer's oesophagus. It ended in death by suffocation.

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Asian nomura jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai), up to 2 meters in diameter, can severely burn their victims in close encounters underwater, sometimes with fatal consequences. However, this does not discourage the Japanese from eating them. In fact, jellyfish are edible, but only after special treatment to get rid of the glycoalkaloids present in the tissues.

If the cook is not properly trained, the eater may experience severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, headaches, and in drastic cases, even coma and death.

Fugu fish (Takifugu rubripes), well known on Japanese menus, has a not much better reputation. Even before it appears on the menu, it defends itself against predators by taking huge amounts of water into its flexible stomach and inflating itself like a balloon surrounded by sharp spikes. If the opponent is not scared by its repulsive appearance, he will regret it after consuming it.

A powerful neurotoxin called tetrodotoxin is found in the ovaries and liver, and in smaller amounts in the intestines and skin. This poison is deadly to humans and is up to 1,200 times more potent than cyanide. A single fish can kill up to 30 people.

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So why would anyone want to consume fugu? If you believe the daredevils, this is a unique delicacy that fully deserves the risk taken. This special is very expensive and can only be prepared by specially licensed chefs.

It is not easy to gut the fish without the toxin getting into the meat. This requires a special knife and one wrong cut can cause tragedy. Suffice it to say that several people die from fugu every year in Japan. In 1958, a record number of 176 deaths were recorded.

A popular fruit in Jamaica is Blighia sapida. It comes from West Africa. It looks like a pear, which when ripe splits into three parts, revealing large black seeds in the light flesh. They, along with the skin surrounding them, are the source of hypoglycin A and hypoglycin B, two toxins that can seriously poison humans. They work by drastically reducing blood glucose levels, which may result in coma or even death.

In the case of unripe fruit, the flesh is also very poisonous, causing the now legendary Jamaican vomiting disease. However, wait until the blighia turns ripe and bursts, then cook the pulp in salt water or milk. After such processing, the pulp is safe for health and is a common ingredient in soups and curry dishes.

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The national dish of Icelanders is fermented Arctic shark (Somniosus microcephalus). This specialty, known locally as hákarl, takes up to five months to prepare, during which the fermented fillets are air-dried. The finished product has a strong ammonia odour, an extremely fishy taste and causes immediate vomiting in many people.

However, there is no point in arguing about the taste, hakarl has its fans. Unfortunately, regurgitation of stomach contents is not the worst thing that can happen to amateurs. In fact, if the meat is not properly marinated or dried, the TMAO toxin it contains can cause respiratory and circulatory problems. A carefully performed fermentation process would neutralise the shark venom.

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Seafood often appears on lists of dangerous foods, mainly due to its high allergenic potential. Blood clams, a species of Tegillarca granosa, are native to Southeast Asia and deserve special attention and caution. The name is not accidental, because mussel meat contains haemoglobin, which gives them their red colour.

Unfortunately, because mussels are caught in polluted waters, they often contain viruses responsible for hepatitis A, typhoid fever and dysentery. In the 1980s, the sale of red clams was banned in Shanghai after 31 people died from viral hepatitis. It should be mentioned that other species of mussels and oysters eaten raw can also infect humans with pathogens.

This article was originally published by Onet.

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