Poisonous food that we actually eat

by Chua Wei Ling

Given the recent case of GBS infection (the biggest to date) due to raw fish and unknown sources, the Singapore government had passed a ban to allow only fish like salmon and tuna sashimi for raw consumption only. While this may seem like new news to most of us, the older generation have long known about the bacteria that are found in the freshwater fishes! So what are some other food that we common eat that are much more dangerous as they seem? Take a look at the list below and see if you have eaten any of these before!

Buah Keluak

This black fruit is featured prominently in Peranakan dishes as well as in food around Southeast Asia, but did you know that it is poisonous as well? The fresh fruit and seeds essentially contain hydrogen cyanide, and without tedious preparation, any consumption of the fruit can prove to be deadly.


Did you know that bitter almonds and wild ones are extremely poisonous? Containing a fair amount of cyanide, an overdose of almonds can be fatal, and this could range from 12 almonds, to up to 2kg of almonds (although we wonder, who would love almonds so much to they point they would consume 2kg in one sitting!)


Also known as tapioca, you can find this being part of the ingredients used for making Malay kuehs and even snacks. However, these are similar to almonds – they contain cyanogenic glucosides, which affects the smell and taste of cassava as well. Should this be incorrectly prepared, poisoning may cause a person irreversible paralysis and of course, death.


So you love fresh tomatoes? Did you know that despite the fact that they are prominently used in salads and eaten raw, these do contain a fair amount of salmonella! In addition to that, the stem as well as leaves do contain chemicals such as glycoalkaloid, and these chemical if ingested, is known to cause upset stomachs as well as nervousness!


A spice that we are all familiar with, nutmeg actually contains a psychoactive substance known as myristicin, which can cause vomiting, dizziness, hallucinations and headaches. Fortunately though, the amount that we normally use in cooking isn’t enough to cause us to experience those effect.

Before paranoia sets in on you, do note that the above foods either has to be consumed in large amounts or only if it was handle inappropriately before there’s any risk to your health. Similar to the case of the GBS infection, these are pretty much unheard of here these days, but what we can tell you is – Eat in moderation!

(images credited to their respective owners)


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