1 – Chicken. Ok, you would probably be more surprised if I told you that 2020 wasn’t exactly going to plan than if I told you that chicken can cause food poisoning, but the first rule here is not to be complacent. We know that chicken can put us at risk of salmonella either raw or undercooked, but did you know that you shouldn’t wash raw chicken before cooking it? Drops of water that splash off the chicken can spread bacteria onto your hands, work surfaces, clothing and cooking utensils – rendering them all potentially lethal. Well, maybe not ‘lethal’ by Mel Gibson’s standards, but they can cause diarrhoea, fevers and stomach cramps!
2 – Rice. What is this? A list of the bleeding obvious? I know, that you know, that rice can cause vomiting and diarrhoea when it is reheated. But do you know the antidote? When rice cools down to room temperature it becomes a breeding ground for ‘bacillus cereus’, and no, that is NOT a character from The A-Team. But I do pity the fool that doesn’t put their leftover rice straight into the fridge when it is warm.
3 – Rhubarb. I love a good crumble as much as the next person and I don’t want you to be deprived of one of life’s great luxuries (especially as the cold weather is approaching) but, Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid…which is poisonous. I’m not even joking – this stuff is used in laundries to remove rust and ink stains from clothing!! Too much oxalic acid can a grown man, and even small amounts can result in nausea, breathing difficulties and kidney stones. Either wash your hands after preparing a rhubarb crumble or let Sara Lee do the dirty work for you. (PS – Don’t forget the custard).
4 – Red Kidney beans. I know what you’re thinking – “But kidney beans are ‘super’ foods! They are high in protein, fibre, vitamins AND minerals, aren’t they?”. Yep. They sure are. Know what else they are high in? Lectin. This stuff may not have you locked in the toilet all day, but it can damage your gut wall preventing your body from absorbing nutrients as efficiently. Don’t panic Mr Mainwearing – I have a simple solution. If you buy dry kidney beans, then soak them for a few hours before boiling them for at least 10 minutes. If you buy them in a tin, you lazy bast….
5 – Elderberries. These little fellas are safe to eat, but if you are out foraging for berries, (who do you think you are? Bear Grylls?), then make sure to leave the leaves alone. Oh, and the twigs and seeds too because they all contain glycoside. So what? Well glycoside produces cyanide. Yep – cyanide, the stuff that the Russians used to use before they upgraded. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea as standard. Unripe Elderberries are buggers for containing glycoside too.
Now repeat after me – “Ripe is alright. Leave the leaves alone”. There is a Conservative Party slogan in there somewhere. Hancock can have that one for free.
6 – Green Almonds. Similarly, raw almonds are full to the brim with cyanide too. When buying them from supermarkets you are pretty safe because they will have been heat treated to remove all toxins. But if you are buying raw almonds from a man called Dimitri at a back-street market then don’t come complaining to me if you end up with dizziness, headaches, convulsions or even a loss of consciousness!
There we have it – a few surprises and a few non-surprises. Who doesn’t like a surprise from time to time? Just not the sort that makes you wish your sink was within touching distance of the toilet…! You may have avoided disaster with these foods for decades so far, but that doesn’t mean that one of them couldn’t be plotting your demise right now.
Watch your back, and bon appetit