Food Magazine Typo Poisons Sweden


Dubner got egg on his face earlier this summer when he called out The Economist for a supposed typo that turned out not to be one.

Sometimes, of course, consequential mistakes do make it through, and a simple correction isn’t always the answer.

Tens of thousands of copies of a Swedish food magazine have been recalled this week after an error in an apple cake recipe sent four of its readers to the hospital with nutmeg poisoning.

The recipe should have called for two pinches of nutmeg. Instead, the magazine went to press telling chefs to use 20 whole nutmeg nuts. That was enough nutmeg for at least four adults to seek medical help for headaches and dizziness.

In large doses, nutmeg is a mild hallucinogen.


Anyone who's ever tasted nutmeg before knows you don't use more than, say, a bit for any kind of recipe. Unless you're making an apple pie to make the Guinness book of world records...

Anyhow, if you're looking for a fun weekend - take about 3 (if you're tiny) or 5 (if you're a big person) and enjoy the long lasting trip.

P.S. - In such amounts nutmeg has three side effects. It dehydrates you, makes going to the toilet easier, and is a natural Viagra. try it!


Thankfully my worst typo as a food writer was only embarrassing, not dangerous.

What was supposed to be Crab Dip was published as Crap Dip.


Anyone who has been in the kitchen before knows that you never use more than 2 tbs. in ANY recipe. While typos can have very negative externalities and inflict a lot of bad on consumers, it is also the responsibility of the consumer to find the best information possible.

So this magazine will probably have to pay a fine because of the typo, which they rightfully should, but more importantly, their credibility is very tainted. Friends and family of those who were sent to the hospital will probably spread word about the event and encourage others not to support a magazine that gave faulty information once. But consumers, don't be mindless. Seek the best information possible and when information seems sketchy, verify it!


Externalities notwithstanding, I have to wonder and wonder how anyone could blindly follow a recipe that required TWENTY WHOLE NUTMEG nuts...

I mean I'm sure most folks who buy whole nutmeg don't go through a nut a year.

Seems like the true externality here is knuckleheadedness

H Tran

Milhouse: "If it's in a book then it's gotta be true!"


The title of this article really captured my attention, to think that such a careless mistake could cause so much harm. As JoseAngelCMS states, this simple mistake had a huge externality cost. (Both economically and on people's health) Usually readers beleive what they are reading, so probably they are not to blame. (of course if you ever read something which seems a bit unrealistic, or strange it is best to research about it; although some people take advantage of this and use the opportunity to demand the writer for wrong information). Instead, an externality tax can be fined on the magazine, since it is very hard to deduce who researchs about the information they have read. Definetly this will be a lesson that will teach other writers how committed they have to be with their work. Not only writers have to be committed with their jobs, but anyone who is unemployed must care about their job, and try their best for excellent results.



my cookbook has the typo that hash is good for you


Typos are sometimes forgivable because they don't have an externality cost on others, but this typo was different, it had an externality cost. It was supposed that only 2 nutmeg nuts be used and they wrote 20. This simple mistake caused many problems to some people.

An externality charge should be placed on the magazine, because it caused people to go to the hospital and to go through a hard time, meaning it caused others some problems. Since an externality charge is a tax charged when something one does damages the lives of people around, this is the perfect example of when an externality charge should be charged.

Mike "Dub" Wainwright

Nutmeg in high doses is actually a very powerful, long lasting hallucinogen with strong disassociative effects. The experience reports in the Erowid vaults( are harrowing. Not what I'd call a recreational drug, to say the least.


I'm going to assume that the people who cooked the food for those who ended up in the hospital had never eaten or cooked with nutmeg before. Otherwise they would have known right off the bat that 20 whole nutmeg nuts would have been too much. One or two teaspoons of nutmeg is usually more than enough to overpower a recipe!


Not only did that cake likely taste horrible, but those chefs must have spent hours grating 20 nutmeg nuts into a form usable for baking.

Alan Romain

Any Professional chef or cook would not follow any recipe requiring 20 whole nutmeg nuts. Nutmeg is so powerful it is only used sparingly. Only an amature would use that much nutmeg in any dish.


UK celebrity chef Anthony Worral Thompson managed to make a similar mistake earlier this year, but with a much more potent poison:


Where can I buy some Nutmeg futures? :-)

M Todd

If you didn't know any better or did not cook I can see it happening.

I remember a newly wed who worked in my office telling how she made her husband his favorite, garlic shrimp stir fry. The probles was she thought a clove of garlic was the whole bulb. So instead of making shrimp with 8 cloves she used 8 whole garlic bulbs. Her husband who owned a restaurant only committed it was a bit spicy and ate it anyway.

Ahhh new love you can't beat it.


How many college kids end up in the hospital this weekend with nutmeg poisoning? I know my friends in college did much stupider things...


Every time I've needed to buy a new jar of whole nutmeg nuts there I would guess there are around 7 nuts in the jar. Perhaps nutmeg comes in different packaging in Sweden, but assuming it doesn't I would wish that warning bells would go off for someone when 2-3 containers of nutmeg nuts had to be purchased for this recipe.

This just makes me glad that my mom insisted on imparting at least a base level of culinary experience and familiarity as part of our rearing. Even though this mistake is incomprehensible to me, I can (sort-of) understand that it could be possible for others.

food magazine

I want to know more about the nutmeg?! i really appreciate this,the doses is so highly and powerful.


As a rule, when I cook for other people and I'm not familiar with the recipe I always check out the ingredients, and do some minor research. If someone isn't food savvy to realize the dangers of high doses of herbs, they shouldn't be cooking for anyone.