The South Korean Obsession With Starch Toothpicks

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The South Korean Obsession With Starch Toothpicks

In South Korea, a strange cuisine fad using an unusual ingredient has acquired popularity on social media. Numerous videos circulating online show people boiling or stir-frying toothpicks

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What are South Koreans selling?

The South Korean Obsession With Starch Toothpicks
South Korean restaurants and supermarkets regularly sell colored toothpicks | Image: YouTube Screengrab

South Korean restaurants and supermarkets regularly sell colored toothpicks manufactured from maize or sweet potato starch. These toothpicks differ significantly from the wooden toothpicks used in India. 

People use starch-based toothpicks because they are more sustainable. However, the South Korean government is concerned about the growing number of individuals ingesting them and the associated health concerns.

Why did the authorities issues a warning?

#녹말이쑤시개 먹는 제품이 아닙니다! ❌녹말이쑤시개는 #위생용품 입니다!위생용품은 성분·제조방법·용도에 대한 기준·규격에 따라 안전성이 관리되고 있으나 #식품으로서 안전성은 검증된 바 없습니다. #섭취하지마세요! ❌ pic.twitter.com/OPNMDc1ofq

— 식품의약품안전처 (@TheMFDS) January 24, 2024

On January 24, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety issued a warning, cautioning and urging people not to eat or cook with toothpicks. “Their safety as food has not been confirmed. 

Please do not consume them,” the authority stated in a post on X.

A YouTube viewer commented on a video showing a person frying toothpicks that turn into an appetizing-looking shape, saying, “The fact that u have to put warning labels on toothpicks that says ‘Do not eat’ is scary. Social media needs to go.”    

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Another person wrote, “Look up South Korean toothpicks. They are made from corn or potato starch and sorbitol, a fruit sugar alcohol. Green food coloring is often added. They are meant to be biodegradable not exactly ingested.” 

How other unusual things are on the market in South Korea?

This isn’t the only unusual and perhaps harmful culinary fad that has gone widespread on social media. 

In early 2018, the “Tide Pod Challenge” encouraged individuals to consume Tide Pods, a laundry detergent product used in washing machines. The challenge resulted in multiple poisonings. In reaction, Google and Facebook pulled videos featuring the challenge. 

Check the videos surfacing here.

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Source: tit.edu.vn

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