Many people know America to be the land of the free. What you may not know is that the U.S. has banned the consumption of certain foods and drinks. If there’s something the U.S. government is keen about, it’s the health and wellbeing of its citizens, especially when it comes to foods and drinks. The FDA and USDA enforce several laws to protect consumers from consuming certain foods deemed to be toxic or with negative health impacts. It’s also in a bid to protect endangered species or stop acts of animal cruelty. So, which six foods are banned on American soil?
While it’s not illegal to eat horse meat in the U.S., it’s illegal to slaughter horses, which by default, prohibits its consumption. The ban was renewed by former U.S. President Donald Trump in March 2018. Elsewhere, horse meat is treasured, especially in China, which remains one of the largest markets for horse meat.
Japanese Puffer Fish
The Japanese Puffer Fish is a whimsical looking fish, a delicacy loved by sushi chefs around the world. The fish is gingerly prepared due to the number of toxins it contains. The neurotoxin, called tetrodotoxin, is found on its skin and some of its organs and is known to cause paralysis and even death.
According to health experts, the neurotoxin is deadlier than cyanide and if the Pufferfish is not prepared properly, the symptoms can manifest within 20 minutes after consumption. Initial symptoms include tingling of the lips and mouth, which may be followed by the tingling of the arms and legs, dizziness, paralysis, muscle weakness, and vomiting.
Importation of pufferfish is currently restricted to one plant in Japan, which has specially trained staff who ensure food safety. Consumption of pufferfish is entirely banned in the U.S. with the exception of a few sellers who have an operating license.
Haggis is a traditional savory loved in Scotland. It’s a pudding that consists of offal, or sheep organ meats, including the lungs, liver, and heart. The mixture is minced and cooked with onion, combined with other ingredients like oatmeal, suet, and seasoning. The whole mixture is then stitched into the sheep’s stomach and boiled for up to three hours. It can be served with turnips, potatoes, or even a shot of whiskey. It’s a traditional delicacy served on Burns Night in Scotland, a national event that honors Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The consumption of haggis is banned in the United States and citizens of Scottish heritage living in the U.S. are prohibited from dining on haggis. This is due to a USDA ban on the sale of sheep’s lungs established more than 45 years ago. The ban was put in place in the wake of the degenerative disease, scrapie, which affects the central nervous system in sheep.
Kinder Surprise Eggs
These are not actual eggs, but egg-shaped, split chocolate treats consisting of a non-edible toy inside. The Kinder Surprise Eggs are part of an FDA ban on the sale of foods containing embedded, non-nutritive objects, established more than 80 years ago. Surprisingly, the Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs are loved overseas and for years, there have been campaigns advocating for its legalization on U.S. soil. The reason for the ban is that it’s deemed a choking hazard. Over the years, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection has seized over 160,000 Kinder Surprise Eggs from travelers’ baggage. However, as of 2018, Kinder Joy, a different version of the chocolate treat has been available in the American market as the packaging separates the toy from the candy.
Ackee is a national fruit in Jamaica. It’s a tropical fruit eaten when fully ripe and can also be used in making an assortment of products, including drinks, jam, and candies. You may be wondering then why it’s banned in the United States? Well, unripe ackee fruit is poisonous. It contains high levels of the toxin hypoglycin A, which is known to disrupt the body’s ability to release blood glucose (blood sugar). If consumed, the toxin can cause hypoglycemia, a condition where the body’s sugar levels are too low. Risks associated with consuming unripe ackee fruit include vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and even death. The FDA banned the importation of the fruit in 1973. However, one can still buy canned or frozen ackee fruit that has been cleared to have substantially low levels of the toxin.
Sea turtles have become an endangered species because they have been hunted for their meat for years. In 2007, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service reported that an estimated 35,000 sea turtles are consumed annually in California alone. The Sea Turtle Conservancy was established to protect these endangered species. Sea turtles are now protected under the Endangered Species Act, along with other rare species like leatherback, hawksbill, green turtle, and Kemp’s ridley.