New Food Trend Sparks Health Concerns in China: Deep-Fried Starch Toothpicks Inspired by South Korean Fad

by Ella

Chinese health officials have issued a warning regarding a concerning new food trend that involves the consumption of deep-fried starch toothpicks. This craze, originating from South Korea and gaining popularity among mainland Chinese youngsters, has prompted worries among parents about potential health risks associated with the unconventional snack.

According to a report by CCTV, the toothpicks, crafted from starch, are subjected to a coloring process that turns them green before being deep-fried in hot oil with added spices. The trend gained traction in South Korea through a live-streaming platform where content creators showcased themselves consuming unusual and excessive amounts of food. The phenomenon swiftly migrated to TikTok and Instagram, garnering attention and followers.


Short videos circulating on social media platforms depict individuals submerging the starch toothpicks into sizzling oil until they curl, then enhancing them with seasonings such as cheese or spicy powder before consumption. Despite the appeal of these videos and the belief in the tastiness and supposed health benefits of the unconventional snack, concerns have been raised about the potential negative impact on health.


The toothpicks, composed of sweet corn and potato mixed with sorbitol, a sugar substitute, may have adverse health effects such as bloating and flatulence. On January 24, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety issued a warning through the social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), urging people to refrain from consuming these “deep-fried toothpicks.” The ministry emphasized that starch toothpicks are not verified edible products, and their safety as food has not been established.


The news has generated a significant public response in China, with the story amassing 3.33 million views on Weibo at the time of writing. While some online observers expressed concerns about food safety, others were simply surprised by the unconventional food trend.


“The food coloring in the toothpicks is indeed unhealthy,” noted one commentator. Another remarked, “They look like worms, disgusting,” while a third questioned, “Is this really delicious?”

China has seen a series of peculiar food fads making headlines in recent times. In September 2023, a South Korean-inspired dietary plan involving the consumption of supplements like coenzyme Q10, fish oil, lutein, and vitamin D3 gained popularity among Chinese youth. Additionally, last July, mainland youngsters attracted attention for “raising” the seeds of mangoes as “pets,” engaging in grooming practices and even keeping diaries for the sprouting seeds. These instances reflect the ongoing fascination and experimentation with unconventional food trends among the Chinese youth population.



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