In the realm of viral social media trends, South Korea has found itself entangled in a peculiar and potentially hazardous fad – the consumption of fried toothpicks. Yes, we’re referring to videos going viral on social media. Responding to the recent surge in the popularity of this trend, the South Korean Food and Drug Safety Ministry felt the need to step in. They have issued a firm warning, urging the public to steer clear of this unorthodox culinary exploration. In an official statement, the ministry emphasised, “This is not a product to eat! Their safety as food has not been verified.”
South Korea’s Love Affair With Fried Toothpicks
To clarify, South Koreans are not frying and munching on those basic wooden toothpicks we use daily. In fact, those toothpicks are typically crafted from sweet potato or corn starch. They are quite popular for their biodegradability and environmental friendliness. However, the recent trend of transforming them into a fried delicacy has raised significant health alarms.
As soon as they are put in hot oil, they turn into crispy and curly fryums-like snacks. And yes, they do look a bit appetising, even more so when seasoned nicely or paired with some dips. But are they appetising enough for people to actually consume them? Apparently, yes. However, the crux of the matter lies in their edibility—or lack thereof. Toothpicks are designed for dental use, not as a snack.
Social Media Trend Sparks Health Concerns
— 식품의약품안전처 (@TheMFDS) January 26, 2024
As the fascination with this trend continues, health experts raise concerns about the potential dangers associated with consuming such toothpicks. One of the most obvious concerns has been about complications in the digestive system. According to the HealthSite.com, deep-frying these toothpicks can result in acute effects such as bloating, abdominal pain, and flatulence from sorbitol. Moreover, long-term side effects may include increased trans fats from deep frying and potential hazards associated with green food colouring used to make these toothpicks
In their efforts to curb the viral nature of this peculiar and unhealthy habit, authorities stress the importance of educating the general public. They are working on educating the public about the inherent dangers of transforming non-edible items into trendy snacks.
Certainly, everything that captures attention should find its way onto the plate!
Cover Image Courtesy: Canva and Ministry of Food and Drug Safety/X
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