A new trend circulating on social media that sees people deep-fry toothpicks, season them with cheese and eat them has health officials concerned about the unknown risks that could accompany consuming the dinner table staple. 

South Korean officials issued a health warning Wednesday urging people not to eat toothpicks, which are made from cornstarch or sweet potato and dyed green with food coloring. 

Videos online show people dropping the kitchen tools into sizzling oil, which causes them to shrivel and curl into a shape resembling curly fries. 

Then, the diners season the fried snack with cheese or spices. 

The videos have racked up thousands of likes on X, Instagram and TikTok.

A new social media trend sees people deep-fry toothpicks, season them with cheese and eat them

A new social media trend sees people deep-fry toothpicks, season them with cheese and eat them

Unlike in the United States, South Korea's toothpicks are not made from wood, but are made from ingredients considered environmentally friendly and biodegradable

Unlike in the United States, South Korea’s toothpicks are not made from wood, but are made from ingredients considered environmentally friendly and biodegradable

Following their popularity, the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a tweet: ‘Their safety as food has not been verified.

‘Please do not eat [them].’

The ministry’s health advisory declares: ‘Starch toothpicks are not intended to be eaten.

‘Recently a video of starch toothpicks, a sanitary product, fried in oil and consumed like food is trending on social media.

‘Starch toothpicks are “hygiene products,” not food.

‘The safety of sanitary products is managed according to standards and specifications for ingredients, manufacturing methods and uses, but their safety as food has not been verified.

‘Do not ingest!’ 

A video from popular YouTube creator who goes by the username @toozidiary described their taste as similar to ‘rice cakes.’ 

‘It’s very crispy,’ one TikTok user said in a video, while crunching on the fried treat. 

Unlike in the United States, South Korea’s toothpicks are not made from wood, but are made from ingredients considered environmentally friendly and biodegradable. 

The oral hygiene product in South Korea also contains sorbitol, a sugary alcohol found in berries and fruits.

It contains about one-third fewer calories than sugar and is 60 percent as sweet. 

Consuming large amounts of the ingredient can cause gas, diarrhea, bloating abdominal cramps and act as a natural laxative.

Consuming too much cornstarch may also cause digestive upset. 

The ingredient is commonly used in an array of products as a thickener and to make corn syrups and other sugars. 

It is high in carbs and calories but low in important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. 

Despite the toothpicks’ food-grade ingredients, health officials stress that the safety of the toothpicks as food has not been evaluated and could pose unknown health risks. 

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