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South Korea issues warning against eating corn starch toothpicks

South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety warns against consuming green corn starch toothpicks due to safety concerns and social media trends.

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SOUTH KOREA – South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety issued a stern warning on Wednesday (24 Jan), cautioning against the consumption of toothpicks, particularly the green ones made of corn starch.

This advisory comes in response to a concerning trend on social media platforms where individuals are seen cooking and eating these starched toothpicks.

In a statement, the Ministry emphasized that these toothpicks are intended solely for sanitary purposes and not for consumption.

(Source: X Platform/@TheMFDS)

“This is not a product to eat!” the Ministry reiterated, underlining that the safety of these toothpicks as food items has not been verified.

Unlike wooden toothpicks prevalent in some countries, those in South Korea are primarily composed of corn or potato starch mixed with sorbitol, a naturally occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits. They are often biodegradable and dissolve in water, with green food coloring frequently added.

Typically utilized in restaurants, these toothpicks are considered hygiene items, akin to cups and straws, and thus not subjected to the same safety regulations as food products.

The Ministry’s warning underscores the risks associated with consuming toothpicks, despite their edible components.

Officials expressed concerns regarding the potential health hazards and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring the secure use of hygiene products. While starched toothpicks may be made from ingredients deemed safe for consumption, their safety cannot be guaranteed once they are repurposed for culinary experimentation.

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