South Korean health officials are asking people not to deep fry and consume starch toothpicks, after the method, which turns the toothpicks into crunchy chips, went viral on social media.
In videos posted to TikTok and Instagram and viewed thousands of times, users are seen putting the toothpicks in hot oil until they puff up, and then adding seasonings like cheese or spicy powder before consuming them.
While the toothpicks, which are made from corn or sweet potato starch and dyed with food coloring, are environmentally friendly and biodegradable, it is unclear if they are safe to consume, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said.
"Starch toothpicks are not edible product...their safety as food has not been verified," the ministry said in a post on X. "Please do not eat."
Deep-fried toothpick "fries" aren't the first hazardous food trend to spread on social media. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2022people not to cook their chicken in NyQuil, and back in 2018, Procter & Gamble consumers not to eat Tide PODS laundry detergent.