South Korea warns trendy TikTokers: Please stop eating toothpicks! (video)

Not since the toothpick crossbow fad of 2017 has the seemingly mundane tooth-cleaning tool been such a cause for concern. But South Korea's health officials just sent out a public warning: "This is not a product to eat!"

The alert, which was posted on X yesterday (see bottom video below, reposted by NBC News), comes as trending TikTok and Instagram "cooking" videos show people coloring, seasoning, and deep-frying toothpicks as if they were noodles and then chomping them down (see first video below, posted by Hiharu_22).

One such toothpick chef described the attractive culinary delight as being "very crispy," according to Reuters.

Although the toothpick craze would be hazardous in the United States, where the small sanitary tools are made of wood, toothpicks in South Korea are, for the most part, made of starch. This ingredient swap seems to make these toothpicks a much less dangerous threat than those used in the mini-crossbows mentioned above.

But according to South Korea's Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, "Their safety as food has not been verified." And for that reason, "Please do not eat (them)." In other words, it's best not to ingest any kind of toothpick, even for an onslaught of online "likes."

From Reuters:

A health warning from South Korea's food ministry has urged people not to eat fried toothpicks made of starch in a shape resembling curly fries, after the practice went viral in social media posts. …

Videos of the toothpicks, a sanitary product, being fried in oil and eaten were going viral, it added.

Food colouring is used to impart a green hue to the toothpicks, made from sweet potato or corn starch, which are seen as being environmentally friendly and biodegradable.

Often used in restaurants in South Korea, they can also be used to pick up finger foods.

Online eating shows, called "Mukbang", which often show people eating an excessive amount of food or unusual dishes, are popular in South Korea.