Here’s why South Koreans are eating fried toothpicks

A bizarre trend that has been gaining popularity in South Korea has caught the attention of the Korean health authorities because of the adverse impact it might have on human health.
South Korean health authorities have issued an advisory on this and have urged people to not follow the trend.
What’s the trend about? It is about eating deep-fried toothpicks.

Videos have gone viral on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram, where people are seen frying the toothpicks and after they resemble curly fries, they season them and eat them. Usually, these fries are seasoned with powdered cheese.

“Their safety as food has not been verified,” the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a posting on Wednesday on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “Please do not eat (them).”

The toothpicks are made of starch

These toothpicks are often used in South Korean restaurants and are also used to pick up finger foods. Food coloring is used to impart a green hue to the toothpicks, made from sweet potato or corn starch, which are seen as being environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

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Reports have said that this trend has been picked from ‘Mukbang’ videos. Mukbang is a trend originating from South Korea where individuals eat large quantities of food while interacting with an online audience through live streaming. Viewers enjoy watching others consume various dishes, often finding it entertaining and comforting. Critics express concerns about promoting unhealthy eating habits and overeating. Balancing entertainment with mindful consumption is crucial to address potential health implications associated with this internet phenomenon.

Consuming excessive starch can have several disadvantages. Starchy foods, such as refined grains and processed carbohydrates, may contribute to weight gain and obesity due to their high caloric density. They can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, impacting insulin sensitivity and potentially increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. Additionally, a diet high in starch may lack essential nutrients and fiber, affecting overall nutritional balance. Overconsumption of refined starches is linked to inflammation and may contribute to digestive issues. It’s essential to prioritize whole, unprocessed sources of starch and maintain a balanced diet to mitigate these potential disadvantages.