Illegal Eats: 5 Foods and Drinks Banned in America

There are several food items other countries happily eat, which in the United States are put on the There are several food items other countries happily eat, which in the United States are put on the At one moment or another, we have probably all said it: "I would never eat that!"

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Just as people around the world have different customs and beliefs, we also all have different food preferences and different ideas as to what we consider "weird" or downright "disgusting." Culture and traditions in different countries also dictate what types of foods generally are considered delicacies, and so while people in China may enjoy chicken feet, many Americans would shrug away a plate of these crispy bites. But with some foods and drinks, it is more than just a question of preference: Countries all over the world have their own lists of edible items that are banned from being imported or consumed.

There has been much talk about the U.S. government allowing Americans to consume ingredients that are banned in other countries, many of which are potentially harmful to our health. But on the other side of it, there are several food items other countries happily eat, which in the United States are put on the "No" list.

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Federal and state governments in the States have either fully or partially banned several items, some of which might seem obvious - like the deadly Japanese blowfish - while others, quite surprising. Until this year, the popular European Kinder Surprise toy-filled chocolate egg was banned in the U.S., as the government thought the hidden toy was too dangerous for children. The legality of other items is still being debated: Formerly banned horse meat is slowly finding its way back to the legal side of meat industy, while the sought-after delicacy foie gras has been banned in California.

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Fugu (Japanese Blowfish)

The Japanese blowfish, fugu, is highly toxic, and can easily be fatal if prepared wrong. Despite this (or perhaps because of it?) it's considered a delicacy in Japan. If you dare, a few places in America do serve blowfish, but it is illegal to sell, harvest, or serve fugu without a license. In Europe, the fish is totally banned.

Unpasteurized Milk

Unpasteurized milk, or raw milk, is widely consumed throughout the world, but it's banned in several American states as it has been linked to the spread of the E. coli bacteria. At the moment, 17 states have a total ban on raw milk for human consumption, while others have partial banns on sales.


Absinthe was long banned in the U.S because of a compound called thujone, which is toxic in excessive amounts. The elixir is also believed to be hallucinogenic. Though absinthe is technically legal in the country today, there is a rule stating that it must be thujone-free - something that might be hard to control.

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Horse Meat

Until recent, the U.S government held a ban on "slaughtering horses for human consumption," but has now given permission for one slaughterhouse in New Mexico to reopen. Several more slaughterhouses have filed requests with USDA for similar permits, but for now, strict inspections must be passed for those wanting legal authority to sell horse meat. In parts of Asia, Latin America, and Europe, horse meat is not an uncommon ingredient in the kitchen.

Foie Gras

Foie gras, often considered a luxurious delicacy, has recently been surrounded by controversy, as California has upheld its law banning the sales of foie gras made from force-fed geese. Animal rights groups are now working on getting a ban in effect in the rest of the country, starting with New York. But for now, the rest of the country, and most of the world, can still enjoy foie gras without breaking the law.

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-Elsa Säätelä, The Daily Meal