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TikTok's fried toothpick trend raises health concerns in South Korea

South Koreans eating fried toothpicks have gone viral on TikTok

By Web Desk
January 31, 2024
Toothpick fries have gone viral in South Korea. — X/@hee_2458
Toothpick fries have gone viral in South Korea. — X/@hee_2458

South Korea's food ministry issued an advisory to the public after TikTok users posted videos of themselves eating green, fried toothpicks.

After being deep-fried, the toothpicks, which are manufactured from maize or sweet potato starch, have a jade colour and resemble thin, curled fries, according to Sky news.

On social media, videos of people eating them have gotten thousands of likes and shares.

The videos demonstrate how the toothpicks are fried in oil and then seasoned with cheese powder.

"It's very crispy," one TikTok user declared.

The food and drug safety ministry cautioned users that the toothpicks' "safety as food has not been verified" in a post on X.

"Please do not eat [them]," the ministry added.

In addition to being used for picking up finger food, toothpicks are frequently found on tables in Korean restaurants due to their perceived environmental friendliness and biodegradability.

Food colouring was used to give the toothpicks their green tint.

A substance known as sorbitol is reportedly utilised; while it is safe in moderation, an excessive amount of it might result in nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea.

In South Korea, there is a popular online eating show called Mukbang, in which participants consume odd or excessive amounts of food.

It has been reported that as a result, small children have started asking for toothpick fries.

This is by no means the first occasion that authorities or medical professionals have issued a caution in response to a TikTok craze.