In a gastronomic world full of diverse flavors, the United States stands as a melting pot of cuisines. Yet, hidden behind the culinary tapestry, a collection of international delicacies remains tantalizingly out of reach for American food enthusiasts. From exotic fruits to centuries-old traditions, a wide array of international foods have been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).We scoured the FDA page, news outlets, and food websites to compile a comprehensive list of these forbidden gastronomic treasures.
Take a look!
1. Haggis (Scotland)
For adventurous eaters, Haggis—a Scottish delicacy, featuring the heart, liver, and lungs of a sheep mixed with onions, oats, and spices, wrapped up in the animal’s stomach —is a tour de force of Highlands’ cuisine. To skeptics, however, it’s a macabre mush of sheep’s innards—and for decades American authorities have agreed.
Originating from a blend of savory ingredients like sheep’s heart, liver, and lungs, combined with oats, onions, and a medley of spices, Haggis it’s like a meatball with a Scottish accent.
So why is this celebrated dish deemed off-limits on American soil? The answer lies within a discrepancy in food regulations. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits the import of foods containing lungs, which are a crucial component of traditional haggis recipes. The USDA prohibits the import of food products containing lungs due to concerns about potential health risks. Therefore haggis has been off the menu in America since 1971 when it was officially banned.
A bit sheepish, don’t you think?
2. Casu Marzu (Italy)
Cheese with maggots, anyone? Well, not in the land of the free and home of the brave, where Casu Marzu—a traditional Sardinian cheese filled with live and thriving larvae—has been banned for years.
What makes this typical Pecorino cheese a “fromage non grata” in America and the entire European Union as well is the risky fermentation process, which involves introducing cheese skipper flies (Piophila casei) to lay their eggs in the cracks that form in the cheese. The hatched maggots journey through its paste, breaking down proteins along the way, transforming the product into a soft, creamy cheese with an overwhelmingly distinctive taste. As creamy and delicious as it may be, it’s not enough to compensate for the health risks that this animated cheese can pose. When consumed, the maggots can survive stomach acid and pass through the intestinal walls, causing a number of health issues. It’s no wonder that the Guinness World Records proclaimed Casu Marzu the world’s most dangerous cheese in 2009.
3. Kinder Surprise Eggs (Germany)
Picture this, a delicious chocolate egg with a fun toy inside. Sounds great, right? But the U.S. has a law against combining sweets with non-edible items to prevent unwanted surprises, meaning the hollow candy egg is a no-show on the candy shelves across the country.
While there have been multiple campaigns advocating to lift the ban in the U.S. for several years, the product remains illegal sale because it’s deemed a choking hazard. Alas, that doesn’t stop kinder fans to “eggsplore” ways to import the forbidden candy. As of 2018, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection had seized over 160,000 Kinder Surprise eggs from travelers’ baggage, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Since 2018, though folks in the U.S. can finally get their hands on a different version of the chocolate delight known as Kinder Joy. Unlike its original packaging, this one keeps the toy and the candy apart by covering each side of the egg with plastic wrap.
4. Ackee (Jamaica)
Ackee is Jamaica’s national fruit and a star in the traditional dish “ackee and saltfish.” But it’s a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde story! If it’s not ripe or prepared correctly, the fruit contains high levels of the toxin hypoglycin A, which inhibits the body’s ability to release blood glucose (blood sugar) causing a condition, aptly named “Jamaican vomiting sickness.” In 1973, FDA banned the importation of raw ackee fruit in the United States, but you can still purchase canned or frozen ackee fruit in the U.S. that has been cleared to have a low enough concentration of the toxin.
5. Fugu (Japan)
This flamboyant blowfish is a Japanese delicacy that really lives on the edge! Going by the name of Fugu, the fish can be lethal if not prepared correctly due to high levels of an extremely poisonous toxin called tetrodotoxin. The fish is banned in the U.S. unless prepared by a licensed fugu chef. So, no playing Russian Roulette with your sushi!
6.Beluga Caviar (Russia/Iran)
Considered the champagne of fish eggs, Beluga Caviar came with a price tag of $200 an ounce. Unfortunately, overfishing has left the Beluga sturgeon in hot water. As of 2005, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services banned the importation of beluga caviar, as well as other beluga products, in an effort to protect this endangered species.
7. Ortolan (France)
In the world of haute cuisine, few delicacies evoke as much mystique and controversy as Ortolan, a small songbird celebrated for its unique flavor and ritualistic consumption. Ortolan, a tiny bird native to Europe, was historically captured, fattened, and ultimately consumed whole, beak to tail, while draped in a ceremonial cloth. Its culinary allure lies in the intriguing combination of flavors, textures, and cultural traditions associated with the clandestine act.
The ban on Ortolan consumption in the United States is rooted in ethical considerations. The practice of capturing and preparing these songbirds has raised significant concerns over animal welfare and conservation.
8. Shark Fin (Various Countries)
Shark fin soup might make waves in traditional Chinese cuisine, but the cruel practice of finning has led to bans in many U.S. states. Shark fins are off the table, but don’t worry, there is plenty of other fish in the sea!
9. Foie Gras
Here is yet another celebrated French culinary indulgence deemed unethical and banned in some states in America. Foie Gras, a French term meaning “fatty liver,” is a paste made from a duck liver renowned for its velvety texture and rich flavor. What makes this fine dining delicacy controversial is the process of how it is produced by force-feeding ducks or geese to enlarge their livers.
The City Council in Chicago placed a ban on the production and sale of the dish from 2006-2008. In 2019, the state of California followed suit and officially banned the sale of the delicacy. A nationwide ban has yet to be enforced. However, it may be on the horizon with California’s successful ban this year.
10. Horse meat
Yes, horse meat is effectively banned for human consumption in the United States. The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) designates horses as “non-amenable” animals, meaning they are not eligible for slaughter for human consumption under federal law.
This prohibition on horse meat consumption for humans is primarily due to concerns surrounding food safety and public health. Horses in the United States are often treated with various medications throughout their lives, including drugs not approved for use in animals destined for human consumption. The lack of a comprehensive system for tracking and ensuring the safety of horse meat raised significant concerns about the potential residues of these medications in the meat.
This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.
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