Japan's killer rice cakes

Mochi are a new year's treat, but can cause suffocation.
Mochi are a new year's treat, but can cause suffocation. Photo credit: Image - Getty

Two people have died and several are in critical condition in Japan after choking on traditional cakes, served as part of the country's new year celebrations.

The cakes, known as mochi, are a glutinous concoction made from sticky rice, which is mashed, pounded, baked, then served with a vegetable broth or sweet soy sauce. 

The process results in a delicacy that can be difficult for some - particularly the elderly and children - to chew through sufficiently before swallowing. 

If swallowed too early, the mochi can stick in the throat and cause suffocation.

The snack claims several lives every year, and now comes with an annual public health warning advising they be cut into small pieces for anyone vulnerable.

The new year of 2015 was the most fatal to date, with nine people killed by mochi. 

Japanese people eat about 1kg of mochi each every new year.

Newshub.