Eating out is one of the most appealing vacation activities, particularly when you’re traveling abroad. After all, local cuisine serves as one of the most effective means of experiencing a unique culture for yourself. Unfortunately, not all cuisine you encounter while traveling is truly safe for consumption. If you are presented with any of the following delicacies, you may want to think twice before taking a bite:
Otherwise known as puffer fish, fugu is a Japanese delicacy that can prove fatal if consumed following improper preparation. The danger involved in this food derives from its high levels of tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that, while found in puffer fish and similar species, is actually created by symbiotic bacteria.
Tetrodotoxin is incredibly toxic, with a dose of just 25 milligrams believed to be lethal for the average human. The toxin works by blocking sodium channels, which are required for the normal communication between the brain and the body. High levels of tetrodotoxin may lead to a loss of function in the involuntary muscles, translating into an inability to breathe and a lack of proper regulation for the heart.
Fatalities from the consumption of fugu are unfortunately common. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reports that, of the 803 people poisoned by fugu between 1989 and 2006, an alarming 52 died. Given these disturbing statistics, you’re probably best off avoiding fugu altogether, or, if you absolutely must try it, sticking to a restaurant that is highly regarded when it comes to safety standards.