Between the processing plant and the supermarket, raw chicken can pick up lots and lots of nasty little bugs that can send you to the hospital if eaten, so you should make sure that all chicken is cooked to at least 165 degrees. And there’s no need to rinse off chicken before you cook it: the bacteria will be killed during cooking, and the splashing water could infect your whole kitchen.
Chaya is a "superfood" found in the Yucatan that was a favorite of the Mayans but hasn’t really caught on in the United States (yet). It’s similar to spinach, only it’s much stronger-tasting and only very small quantities of it can be eaten raw. Why? The leaves contain cyanide, which is obviously a deadly poison in large quantities. Boiling the leaves for five minutes neutralizes the toxin.
Just like Chaya, yucca (or cassava root) also contains cyanide, or cyanogenic glycosides to be exact. High levels of the toxin are found in its leaves, which prevents it from being eaten by insects and animals, but some also makes its way into the edible root as well. In order to make this starchy tuber edible, it must be dried, soaked in water, rinsed, and cooked as soon as possible after harvest.
Sure, Rocky might down raw eggs on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it’s smart. While they’re loaded with protein, raw eggs also have the possibility of containing salmonella, which infects about one out of every 30,000 eggs. And because it’s in the yolk, those who are concerned should never eat their yolks runny either.
These you really shouldn’t eat at all; forget about cooking them first. If you crack open seeds and pits from fruits that contain them, the inside is soft and appears to be edible. But don’t eat it: it contains a chemical called amygdalin that can turn into — you guessed it — cyanide (who knew that so many foods contained cyanide?). Thankfully, you’d need to eat a whole lot of peach pits in order to get sick, but we wouldn’t chance it.
You know how sometimes older potatoes can begin to turn a funky shade of green? Yeah, you don’t want to eat that part. When potatoes get too much sunlight, a chemical called solanine can build up to toxic levels, and that’s what the green is. If consumed, it can lead to headache, fatigue, nausea, and stomach issues. Store your potatoes in a cool, dry place and you’ll avoid this problem.
Pork no longer needs to be cooked to well-done, but you should still cook it past the medium point. Pork still has the potential to carry a couple of bugs: trichinosis, a roundworm; and pork tapeworm, which can grow up to 6 feet long in the gut of a pig. If the meat is eaten undercooked, it can transmit the parasite to you, with some unpleasant side effects. These diseases largely hail from the days when pigs were allowed to eat garbage, and have largely been eradicated by modern processing. It’s still risky, though, and rare pork doesn’t taste very good, either.
If you were to take a few raw kidney beans off the vine and eat them, not only would they taste gross, but within a couple hours you’ll be nauseous, vomiting, and have an upset stomach. The culprit? A natural toxin called lectin. Soak the beans in water for at least five hours before cooking and you’ll be fine.
You might have heard that rhubarb is poisonous when raw, but it’s actually the leaves you should avoid at all costs. The leaves contain insanely high levels of a toxin called oxalic acid, which when consumed can cause serious kidney damage, and possibly even death. Even a small amount can make you sick, and 10 or so pounds is enough to kill you.