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Bay Leaf - Will it kill you?

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Is it true that if you swallow a bay leaf it will slit your esophagus? I was passed this information by a family member. I still cook with bay leaves, but am afraid that they will break and I will miss a piece and I will slowly bleed to death.

I wish I was kidding! Help.

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  1. They won't "slit" your esophagus, but they are notorious for getting stuck in your throat. That can lead to choking. You should always remove bay leaves before serving, and never use broken bay leaves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: maisonbistro

      A long time ago (several decades) I did have a friend start choking on a bay leaf at the table. It ended up dislodging in time, but it was frightening. I haven't thought about that for many years -- until this post raised the question. And I guess I am not slavish about removing them. Most of the time eaters can see them and remove them. But maybe it makes sense to be a bit more careful.

    2. Powdered bay leaf is available.

      1. I don't sweat this stuff -- but do have memories to crunching down one more than one of these suckers in my dad's stews growing up. I suppose a truly concerned individual could put the bay leaves into a cheese-cloth bag to keep them together and then fish them out after cooking. Although the cheese-cloth bag could be a bigger choking hazard if left in and there was a particularly greedy guzzler at the table.

        1. I recently left one in a soup I made, which got blenderized at the end,. and there were little pieces throughout. We were halfway through when I realized and no harm done, but if you put in more than one, definitely keep count! They were really sharp.

          1. Thanks for everyone's input. I will keep my eye on them, but not imagine slow death.
            EEK.