Young people in Korea now eat toothpicks; warn health risk due to viral challenge

Unlike other countries, which are made of wood, these chopsticks are made from sweet potato or corn starch, which are considered environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

They look delicious, even with chili powder… but are they really healthy? A health warning from South Korea’s Food Ministry urged people not to eat toothpicks made of starch shaped like potato chips, after the practice went viral in social media posts. Video clips showing people consuming fried starch sticks with condiments such as powdered cheese have racked up thousands of likes and shares on TikTok and Instagram.

Videos of toothpicks, a medical product, being fried in oil and eaten were going viral, he added. “Its safety as food has not been verified,” the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a publication Wednesday on the social media platform, formerly known as Twitter. “Please don’t eat them.”

Unlike traditional wooden chopsticks, In South Korea they are made with sweet potato or corn starch, which are considered eco-friendly and biodegradable, and food coloring is used to impart a green hue. They are often used in South Korean restaurants, but can also be used to facilitate finger eating. Online food shows, called “Mukbang,” which often show people eating excessive amounts of food or unusual dishes, are popular in South Korea.