Foods Banned Around the World (Slideshow)
Okay, so technically mac and cheese isn’t illegal anywhere, but certain types of food coloring are, including Yellow #6. Yellow #6 has been found to be harmful to children, and as such, any foods that include Yellow #6 are banned in Norway and Austria. One of those foods? Boxed mac and cheese. While this is obviously a nightmare for many of us to hear, Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese having been an integral part of our childhood, the good news is that you can probably make a better version from scratch.
Foie gras is a prized dish among epicures. It’s a specially fattened duck or goose liver that is spectacularly buttery and tasty. Unfortunately, the way you specially fatten these birds is by force feeding the animals, which has been declared by many countries and local governments to be inhumane and cruel. As such, Israel, Argentina, India, parts of the U.S., and much of Europe have banned foie gras. Some countries have invented methods to produce foie gras without force-feeding, but not all producers use these methods.
Samosas are not a food you can mess up: fried pastries filled with meats? Yes, please. But Al Shabaab, the extremist Muslim group that controls much of war-torn Somalia, has banned locals under their jurisdiction from eating the pastry because unscrupulous vendors were selling rotten meat used in samosas. Early reports claimed that the pastries were banned because their triangular shape was too much like the Christian trinity, but that was obviously false: all you have to do is make it into a more Islamic crescent shape and voila, you’ve got an empanada.
Singapore, the hyper-clean, hyper-strict Asian city-state, is well-known for its food laws. Durian, the world’s stinkiest fruit, is banned on their metro, but probably their most famous ban is that of chewing gum. Chewing gum is banned in Singapore (though they can be prescribed gum by a doctor) because vandals have an annoying tendency to stick it everywhere they go. And you know what? We’re okay with this ban. We’re sick of getting gum on our shoes, and Singapore’s about the cleanest city on the planet.
Haggis is the second-most famous Scottish product (behind God’s drink, Scotch, of course). It’s made of sheep heart, liver, and lungs, and is mixed with a number of spices and seasonings. It sounds awful but is actually delicious, especially with a dram of Scotch on the side. It’s banned in the U.S. because of a rather arbitrary ban on the lungs of the sheep (though not the heart or liver). The government of the U.K. is trying to get their American counterparts to overturn the ban.
Possibly the most upper-class-sounding food on the planet, White Beluga caviar comes from the eggs of the Beluga sturgeon, a critically endangered fish that exists only in the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Adriatic Sea. It is banned through much of the world by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) because the countries with access to the seas that they come from (with the exception of Iran) fail to prevent their poaching.
Probably the silliest ban on the list, the French banned ketchup from their primary schools because they were afraid students will use it to mask their traditional French cuisine. The idea is that public schools are not only supposed to be feeding children, but teaching them about French cuisine, and ketchup ruins a lot of French cuisine. Ironically, students are still allowed to use ketchup on their French fries.
The United States bans Kinder Eggs, an Italian chocolate egg with a surprise toy embedded inside as part of a law designed to prevent little kids from swallowing a tiny plastic toy. The ban is actually fairly strictly enforced, but was recently circumvented by a New Jersey company that figured out how to separate the two sides of the chocolate by an inedible capsule that is visible from the outside.
Sassafras root was traditionally used to make root beer until it was discovered that an element of Sassafras oil can cause cancer in rats. The FDA banned the use of it in foods after this was discovered, though companies have found a workaround by removing safrole (the carcinogenic element of the oil) from their product. This is totally legal, and you’re able to buy some types of sassafras root beer on the market today.
The ortolan is another force-feeding delicacy: the ortolan bunting is a French bird that will eat constantly if you put it in the dark. So they put them in a box with a bunch of millet until they’ve eaten enough, and then they are drowned in Armagnac brandy. The eater then puts a napkin over their head, in order to keep their fellow eaters (and God) from seeing what they do next, which is eat the entire bird, bones and all. It’s probably pretty clear why this is banned.
Garlic is not technically banned anywhere, but it is taboo among Buddhist monastics in China and some Hindus. There is a story that when the Hindu God Vishnu slayed a group of demons, the blood that dripped from their severed heads sprouted into garlic, making it a food of the enemies of God. Buddhism is a Hindu offshoot, so it’s likely that’s where the superstition came from. The other obvious answer that comes to mind is that Buddhist monastics are vampires.