The 10 most dangerous dishes in the world

plats dangereux, nourriture mortelle

These 10 foods can be deadly

These are delicious dishes or exotic specialties that we could find on our plates every day, but beware: these (often bizarre) foods must be prepared with care. They could make you seriously ill, or even kill you…



A tropical root crop, manioc is cultivated in Pacific island countries, South America, Asia and Africa. This food contains cyanogenic glycoside, which is potentially fatal if not properly cooked. To make cassava fit for consumption, it must first be peeled and sliced, then carefully cooked, either by baking, boiling in water or roasting. This process eliminates the poison.



Photo credit: Flickr – Derek A.

Fugu is a fish famous for its ability to kill, if not prepared properly. It’s a delicacy in Japan, home to over 3,800 fugu restaurants, where chefs must go through years of rigorous training to become certified to prepare the fish for human consumption. Usually eaten raw, the fish contains a poison called tetrododoxin. When consumed, tetrododoxin attacks the nervous system of victims, who initially remain fully conscious while their nervous system gradually stops functioning, first producing dizziness, then paralyzing muscles. This can lead to asphyxiation, and eventually death.

Casu Marzu

casu marzu

Photo credit: Flickr – Shardan

This is essentially a rotten cheese infested with larvae. This cheese is a traditional dish among the Sardinians in Italy. The cheese is placed outside in the open air (and uncovered) to allow the flies to lay their eggs inside. The thousands of larvae that then hatch feed on the cheese, causing it to ferment. When eaten, the larvae can settle in the intestine and cause serious illness. This cheese has been banned throughout Europe, but there is a « black market » just for this « delicacy », with local mountain shepherds continuing to produce it in small quantities. It’s advisable to wear protective glasses when eating cheese. Why should you? The larvae can jump up to 15 centimetres, right into your eyes. Cheese is said to be an aphrodisiac…



Photo credit: Flickr – smee

A traditional Icelandic dish, Hákarl is a Greenland shark that has no urinary tract and must therefore secrete urine through its skin (by sweating, as it were). The animal’s flesh therefore contains a high concentration of uric acid, which is a real poison for humans. Chefs have to ferment the shark and hang it to dry for six months to filter out the waste and potentially toxic substances that accumulate in the animal’s meat. So when you eat this Icelandic dish, you’re eating rotten shark meat.

Akea (Blighia sapida)


Photo credit: Flickr – Kaiton Source

Jamaica’s national fruit, the akée is actually native to West Africa. If the fruit is eaten before it is fully ripe, it can cause what is known as Jamaican vomiting disease, which can lead to coma or death (particularly in young children). This is due to a poison called hypoglycine.

Cashew nuts

noix cajou

Photo credit: Flickr – Genchi Mathi

This one may surprise you. Those « cashews » you buy at the supermarket aren’t so healthy. At least not if they’ve been properly cooked. The nuts are steamed and not entirely raw. Raw cashews contain urushiol, a chemical which, if consumed at high levels, can be fatal.

The bullfrog


Photo credit: Flickr – Tom M

This frog is a delicacy in African regions such as Namibia, but it contains substances that can be fatal to humans. The age of the frog is key; a young frog that hasn’t yet reproduced carries a toxin that can cause kidney failure in humans.

Le Sureau


Photo credit: Flickr – Andy Rogers

The leaves, twigs and seeds of the elderberry plant can cause serious illness when ingested, as they contain a chemical related to cyanide. Also, eating elderberries that aren’t ripe or cooked properly can even cause severe diarrhea and convulsions.



Photo credit: Flickr – Marshall Astor

This dish is very popular in South Korea, but it may not look very appetizing to you: the tentacles of this little octopus are still wriggling around on the plate. This dish is perhaps the most dangerous, because you have a role to play. When you swallow the octopus while it’s still alive, the suction cups cling to your lips, palate and, above all, your throat. The toughest cephalopods don’t let themselves be eaten without resistance, and it’s possible for them to get stuck inside the throat. On average, six people die every year from choking.

Blood clams

palourdes de sang, plat dangereux

Photo credit: Flickr – T. Tseng

The name of this dish may put you on your guard. Harvested from the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico regions, these clams can ingest viruses and bacteria, including hepatitis A, typhoid and dysentery. Blood clams from Chinese waters are known to cause hepatitis epidemics.

Via Conde Nast Traveler