[Culture and Entertainment] Here's why eating a live octopus can be deadly

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From Lindsay Dodgson:

raw octopus



  • Live octopus is a delicacy in some parts of the world, including South Korea and Japan.
  • But if it isn't prepared properly, it could kill you.
  • A nutritionist told INSIDER it's not recommended because the suckers make octopus a choking hazard. According to a Korean chef, octopus has to be cut up into very small pieces to avoid this.
  • A vlogger recently tried to eat a raw octopus on camera, but its suckers got stuck to her face while she tugged at it and screamed.
  • Lucky she didn't succeed, or she could have choked to death.
  • Visit INSIDER's homepage for more stories.

In some parts of the world, it's a delicacy not just to have your food served raw, but alive. In South Korea and Japan, in particular, people may chew on tentacles from an octopus that is still moving.

If this doesn't gross you out, there is another reason not to try and swallow a live sea creature — it could kill you.

And it's not because the octopus might fight back, as an unlucky vlogger recently experienced during a live stream, but because it's a choking hazard.

Read more: An octopus sucked onto a vlogger's face and ripped her skin when she tried to eat it live on camera

"It comes with a safety warning," author and nutritionist Jenny Tschiesche told INSIDER. "It's not recommended. There's a choking hazard predominantly from the suckers getting stuck to the inside the throat, leading to the octopus causing an obstruction."

In April 2010, a South Korean woman collapsed and stopped breathing after eating a live octopus, and died in hospital 16 days later. Her boyfriend was convicted of murder, but eventually got the conviction overturned in the Supreme Court.

octopus


"As far as the risk of food poisoning goes, octopus is not at the top of the list for seafood," said Tschiesche. "It's quite low risk and perhaps this is why it is a Korean practice to eat it raw."

Tschiesche added that this isn't her area of expertise. But a video from Vice's Munchies series explains how chefs cook and prepare octopus so customers eating it don't choke to death.

According to head chef Kim Sang Jin, you first have to grab the octopus by the head and squeeze the tentacles downwards to remove the mucus, because this isn't very nice to eat.

"Eating the live octopus is very good for your blood sugar levels," he said. "Because it contains virgin [raw] taurine."

After trying some on camera, he said the tentacles stick to his mouth and it feels "kind of strange." He said to stop customers choking, the octopus has to be cut into very small pieces.

"If you try to eat big pieces it can get caught in your throat," he added. "And that's when you have an accident and die."

You can watch the full video below.


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