South Korea warns against eating fried toothpicks as trend goes viral

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South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is urging people not to eat fried toothpicks made out of starch in what has reportedly become a viral trend. 

Videos showing people eating deep-fried toothpicks topped with seasonings such as powdered cheese are generating thousands of likes and shares on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, according to Reuters. 

“Starch toothpicks are a hygiene product!” the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a post on X. “The safety of sanitary products is managed according to standards and specifications for ingredients, manufacturing methods, and uses, but their safety as food has not been verified. Do not consume!” 

The toothpicks, which are made from sweet potato or corn starch, are given their green color through food coloring and are frequently used in restaurants in South Korea, Reuters reports. 

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Green fried toothpicks

Fried green toothpicks have gone viral in South Korea, reports say. (b_chuchu_ / @hee_2458 via X/Reuters)

“It’s very crispy,” one TikTok user was quoted by the news agency as saying in a video. 

The health warning comes after South Korea’s parliament passed a bill earlier this month to ban the breeding and slaughter of dog meat for consumption due to animal welfare concerns, which will bring an end to the country’s centuries-old practice. 

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Person holding fried toothpick

A person in a social media video holds a fried toothpick. (b_chuchu_ / @hee_2458 via X/Reuters)

The law, which will come into effect in 2027, will ban the breeding, slaughtering and selling of dogs for their meat.  

It gained bipartisan backing and is supported by South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, an animal lover who owns six dogs and eight cats with First Lady Kim Keon Hee, also a vocal critic of dog meat consumption. The bill was passed by an overwhelming 208 votes with two abstentions in the single-chamber parliament. 

Fried toothpicks in a bag

South Korean health officials are warning the public against eating fried toothpicks. (b_chuchu_ / @hee_2458 via X/Reuters)

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“This is history in the making,” Chae Jung-ah, the executive director of Humane Society International Korea, an animal protection group told Reuters at the time. “We have reached the tipping point where most Korean citizens reject eating dogs and want to see this suffering consigned to the history books.” 

Fox News’ Michael Dorgan, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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