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The world’s most dangerous cheese is served covered in jumping maggots

Published Jun 26th, 2024 6:20PM EDT
banned cheese with flies in it
Image: Luca / Adobe

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Cheese is a wonderful food. It’s a core component of many meals, including some of my personal favorites. But not all cheese is good. In fact, some of it is downright terrifying—and even dangerous. enter casu marzu, the world’s most dangerous cheese. What makes this cheese so dangerous, you ask? Well, this cheese is made with the help of the larvae of the cheese fly, Piophila casei, and they’re still alive and in the cheese when people eat it.

Casu marzu is made in Sardinia, and this delicacy is considered so dangerous that it’s actually banned in quite a few places—including Italy itself. Even looking at pictures of the cheese is somewhat naseauting, as the maggots that help create the cheese are prevalent within it. They’re also extremely active, and are capable of jumping up to 15 centimeters in the air.

The main reason that casu marzu is considered the world’s most dangerous cheese, though, comes down to the fact that eating the cheese—even if you somehow got rid of most of the maggots in the cheese on your plate—you still might end up infected with intestinal myiasis. This is essentially when maggots congregate and live in your digestive system.

Casu Marzu - world's most dangerous cheese
Casu marzu. You can see the maggots that help make the cheese inside and on the plate beside the wheel of cheese. Image source: ballylocci / Adobe

It’s a really dangerous issue, and when patients become infected with the condition, it can lead to things like abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some infected patients can even be asymptomatic—meaning they won’t know they have maggots living out of their digestive tract because they won’t show any signs of the infection.

Kind of crazy, right? Despite being considered the world’s most dangerous cheese, casu marzu is also an extreme delicacy that has been enjoyed for thousands of years in Sardinia. Some have even said they didn’t notice the maggots at all when eating it. I find that hard to believe, considering how much they seem to jump around, but maybe those people got lucky.

Either way, I don’t think I’ll be looking to taste casu marzu anytime soon. In fact, I’d prefer to forget that this terrifyingly disgusting cheese even exists. But since brains don’t really work that way, I’ll have to live with the knowledge that someone is probably eating cheese full of live maggots somewhere each day. I guess, at least, it isn’t driving anything to extinction like frog legs are, though.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices.

Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.