The World’s Deadliest Foods

Lethal cherries

You only have to look at the number of popular food-themed Instagram accounts, blogs and even online pokies to know that most people today are foodies. We prize culinary delights very highly, and if the rising number of cooking shows, restaurants and celebrity chefs around are anything to go by, we’re getting more obsessed all the time.

With this in mind, allow us to present a list of deadly foods. Most of them are commonly-found, and the fact that they appear so harmless and unthreatening makes them even more dangerous to unsuspecting eaters.

Cherry Pips

Cherry pips contain hydrogen cyanide, a poisonous compound that is definitely best avoided. When you’re eating cherries that haven’t been stoned, make sure you spit out the pips as soon as possible. The same advice applies to apricots, peaches and other stone fruits.

Don’t worry too much though; you’d have to swallow literally hundreds of cherry pips to hit the 703-milligram daily limit of hydrogen cyanide for a 150-pound person. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d do, you’re probably safe.

Alfalfa Sprouts

You probably didn’t start reading this list expecting to see something as apparently healthy as alfalfa sprouts, but don’t let their squeaky-clean image fool you. The raw sprouts provide the ideal environment for bacteria colonies to grow, and have been responsible for several foodborne illness outbreaks over the past 20 years. In fact, the United States Department of Health and Human Services has dealt with E Coli, Salmonella and plenty of other nasties.


Sannakji is a Korean dish consisting of octopus that is killed just before it’s served. This isn’t just the ultimate in fresh sushi; the critters can still squirm thanks to residual nerve activity. Even though they’re dead, they can still squirm and suction themselves to your throat as you swallow.

This food is unique on our list, since it’s death by the mechanical process of choking, rather than by a poison – similar to the difference between being suffocated by a python versus being bitten by a cobra, if you will.


In Japan pufferfish meat is called fugu and is prized as an expensive delicacy. These creatures almost always contain tetrodotoxin, which can be up to 1200 times more poisonous than cyanide. Fugu is prepared by specially trained and licensed chefs, which lowers the toxic risk but doesn’t make the meat completely safe. Even with these precautions in place, government records show that between 30 and 50 people are hospitalised for fugu poisoning every year.

Deadly puffer fish

Green Potatoes

Fried green potatoes might sound as appetising as the fried green tomatoes in the classic feel-good movie, but you are definitely better staying away from these spuds. You actually need to be careful of green tomatoes too; both vegetables contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid that can cause diarrhoea, excess saliva, depressed respiration and blood pressure, cardiac arrest and even death. The more serious symptoms aren’t that likely since someone weighing 100 pounds would need to eat 16 ounces of bright green potato for them to appear, but none of the effects sound very pleasant.


Shellfish can absorb harmful microbes while still in the ocean, and these can remain alive if the flesh is raw or undercooked. Raw oysters have long been believed to be an aphrodisiac, but experts say they are the biggest shellfish culprits of all. Nothing kills a romantic mood more than potentially fatal food poisoning, after all, so be careful.

Green Cashews and Almonds

Green cashews and almonds are packed full of cyanide, and it’s only through the process of full heat treatment that they are detoxified and become safe for consumption. You’re safe when buying commercially available bags in stores, but don’t eat any that you find in the wild. Even then, the risks are not huge because of the kernel size. The nuts are so small that you’d need to consume around 1500 kernels to suffer the toxic effects.

Unripe Ackee Fruit

A popular Jamaican fruit, ackee is not even allowed inside United States borders because of how dangerous it is. Though safe and delicious when rosy red and ripe, unripe yellow fruits have high levels of hypoglycin A. This can cause hypoglycaemia, vomiting and possibly even death. Oh, and the black seeds are always poisonous whether the fruit is ripe or not.

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