Seoul: 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.
Video clips showing people consuming the deep-fried starch toothpicks with seasoning such as powdered cheese have racked up thousands of likes and shares on TikTok and Instagram.
"Their safety as food has not been verified," the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said in a posting on Wednesday on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. "Please do not eat (them)." 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.
"It's very crispy," one TikTok user said in a video, while crunching up fried toothpicks.