Popular Deep Fried Tempura Flakes Are Spontaneously Combusting And Causing Restaurant Fires

Megan Schaltegger
Photo credit: Katya_Bratova / Getty Images

From Delish

They say it's the ones you love that hurt you the most. And, honestly, the theory tracks because sushi—or more specifically, those delicious little tempura flakes used on sushi—are spontaneously combusting and causing restaurant fires.

The ingredient, also known as agedama or tenkasu, which is Japanese for "heavenly waste," has been linked to recent fires across the country. According to fire investigator Kara Nelson, five of those incidents have occurred in Wisconsin. Similar ones have occurred in Minnesota, Virginia, and Canada, the New York Times reports.

The tempura flakes are made by dipping batter into a deep fryer with either canola or soybean oil. Nelson says that the oil typically self-heats, and that having too much mix prevents the heat from dissipating. That's when problems erupt and there's a chemical reaction. "It can happen in hay bales," Nelson continued. "It can happen in mulch piles."

The first fire in Madison, Wisconsin, which reportedly occurred April 5 at Sumo Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, was caught on camera. The flakes were left to cool in a metal colander for six hours. Not long after, the kitchen ignited in flames.

"Don't leave it unattended," she said."It can take anywhere from three to 10 hours for the heat process to start before it goes into ignition. We want to get the word out there." The crunch should be spread out, not contained, and under a watchful eye.

For the sake of hungry Americans everywhere, please be careful, guys! And, uh, stay away from piles of tempura flakes?

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