Bay leaves are not poisonous, but the edges are sharp and can scratch a person's mouth, throat, stomach and intestines. Bay leaves are tough enough that simmering them all day does not disintegrate or soften them. Bay leaves should be removed from food before eating.
Bay leaves add a subtle woodsy flavor to foods. Other species of plants related to the bay leaf that are not sold as herbs, such as the cherry laurel, the California bay laurel and the mountain laurel, are poisonous. The leaves of these plants look similar to bay leaves. For this reason, bay leaves should be bought in a store, not picked in the wild.