The RSPCA has warned participants of the online craze "Neknomination" that eating goldfish is against the law.
The statement is a response to the craze which involves social media users posting videos of themselves “necking” drink and then carrying out increasingly risky dares. The game has been criticised for allegedly causing a teenager to die in Ireland.
A spike in calls relating to people drinking shots of alcohol containing goldfish led the animal charity to release the statement against the controversial game. It reminds participants that by eating a live fish they are committing a criminal offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, and could be prosecuted if caught.
Their warning comes as police are investigating an incident where a woman rode a horse into Tesco and downed a Pepsi Max, allegedly as part of a “Neknomination challenege.”
RSPCA wildlife scientist Nicola White said: “We are extremely concerned about this shocking new trend.
"We have had quite a few similar cases reported to us in a very short space of time – but this could be just the tip of the iceberg as there’s probably many more we have not been told about.
The most controversial internet crazes
The most controversial internet crazes
Twerking, a mixture of twisting and jerking, has been around since the late 1990s, but its popularity dramatically increased after Miley Cyrus 'twerked' at the 2013 MTV VMA awards with Robin Thicke, prompting fans to upload their own versions on Youtube - we've even had twerking stormtroopers. It's since been accused of corrupting the minds of young people and, last year, 33 students were suspended after making a video of themselves 'twerking' using school equipment.
2/7 Happy Slap
It's been almost a decade since the Happy Slap craze broke out in the UK, but what started out in as a small joke between friends in Lewisham in 2004 eventually became a nationwide phenomenon. Happy Slapping involved a victim being filmed on a camera phone getting slapped. As the craze spread, incidents became more and more vicious and it was linked to a rise in bullying in school playgrounds. In 2008, a teenage girl was sentenced to two years' detention after filming the fatal beating of a man.
Originating in Australia in 2008, the trend of 'planking' swept Britain a year later. The craze, in which people form a straight figure with hands down by their sides, had thousands of participants uploading their efforts on to Facebook. While most were harmless enough, the more daring have been known to plank across railway tracks and between buildings, causing major health concerns. In 2011, a 20-year-old man died after 'planking' on a seven-story building in Australia.
'Tombstoning' emerged in 2012 as a much more dangerous fad. It involved finding the highest rock to leap from, giving jumpers sufficient time to change their body position to resemble a tomb falling into the sea. It was invented initially as a way to keep cool during sizzling temperatures, but as the challenges became more daunting, some experienced horrific injuries as a result of jumping into shallow or rocky waters.
While not as dangerous as other internet fascinations, McDonald's staff are now finding themselves on the receiving end of another internet craze. 'McDiving' started last year and normally comes at the end of an alcohol-fuelled night out, where it is then customary for a 'McDiver' to go to the nearest McDonald's and launch themselves over the counter. McDonald's franchises have even started hiring bouncers at peak times of the day to deal with any mischief makers.
6/7 Gun Selfies
Where it actually came from remains a mystery, but the 'Selfie' remains a popular feature on the internet - it was even named word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries in 2013. However, a number of gangs in America have taken it a step further, posting 'gun selfies' of themselves. Last year, two men were charged for 142 counts of possession of a firearm and were bailed by police after posting numerous photos. The craze has led to several calls for photos to be taken down, with parents fearing that children could try and create their own poses.
7/7 Gallon Smashing
Given that glossy floors are prominent in supermarkets, it would be deemed acceptable to see the occasional person slip over. But this is no accident. Gallon smashing started to appear on Youtube last year and has becoming increasingly popular in the US. It sees agile teenagers throw gallons of milk in the air as well as hurtling themselves on to the ground. However, with the mess, cost and inconvenience that is caused, the 'gallon smashing' craze has seen security stepped up in supermarkets.
She added: “Eating a live animal and posting of a film of it on the internet is not some light-hearted joke – it is unacceptable. It sends out a clear message that animal cruelty is OK as long as it is in the guise of entertainment.
“We urge people not to take part in this horrible craze and to report to us anyone who is taking part.”
The charity says it has so far received 14 calls about "Neknominating"footage involving swallowing live fish, including three calls on Tuesday and four on Monday.
It is currently investigating a number of these cases.