16 Odd Food and Drink Laws From Around the World

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How many of these gustatory prohibitions have you accidentally violated?

16 Odd Food and Drink Laws From Around the World

Saparmurat Niyazov, once the dictator of Turkmenistan, was known for enacting laws based on his whims, such as demanding that the word for “bread” be changed to “Gurbansoltan,” the name of his late mother. Niyazov died in 2006, but his bread law is far from the only odd food- or drink-related statute to be passed. Here are 17 food and drink laws from around the world that will certainly make you raise an eyebrow or two.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Kazue Asano

Be Careful of How You Crush Your Beer Cans in Australia

Next time you’re out in Western Australia, remember that crushing a can of beer between your breasts, should you wish to do so, can land you in jail. No, this isn’t a joke. A bartender (or barmaid, as they say in Australia) was arrested, tried, and fined for flaunting her crushing talent.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Joe Loong

Beer and Seek

Nigeria has a law that makes imported beer illegal. So does that mean it’s illegal to drink in Nigeria? Not exactly. It’s OK to purchase and drink local beer if you can find it, as long as you’re 21. This is not the case in some religious Northern states, where alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited, yet secret drinking dens thrive.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Andrew Moore

Beware the Brussels Sprouts

Wikimedia Commons / ThorPorre

This is a bit worse than those childhood standoffs when we weren’t allowed leave the dinner table without finishing our Brussels sprouts. In Belgium, it is perfectly legal to throw Brussels sprouts at tourists — so don’t offend the locals unless you’re prepared to accept your just (albeit bitter) desserts.

Caught a Sturgeon? Hand It Over

Every sturgeon, whale, dolphin, and porpoise caught off the coast of the United Kingdom is the official property of the Queen, according to a law enacted during the reign of Edward II that never quite got repealed. Seriously. Guess what happened to a rare sturgeon caught by two Welsh boys? Off to the royal palace.

Photo Modified: Flickr / USFWSmidwest

Dangerous Fruit

The smelly durian fruit is banned in many airports and hotels in Southeast Asia, as well as Singapore’s mass transit system. Durian wine, on the other hand, might just be the next big thing.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Kazue Asano

Do as the Locals Do

Shutterstock / FreeBirdPhotos

This one isn’t exactly a “wacky” law, but it is one that foreigners may be unprepared to abide by. In 2011, Dubai’s Foreign Office decreed that tourists holidaying in the UAE during Ramadan should be considerate of local laws and customs, which means no eating or drinking during the day. Luckily for tourists, this rule only applies in public places. While tourists who might not know the law are usually given a pass, Muslims, from home or abroad, could go to jail. 

Don’t Feed the Birds

Shutterstock / Cosmin Coita

Sitting on a bench and tossing bread crumbs to all the little birds that gather at your feet can be one of the great pleasures of city life. Try doing this in San Francisco, however, and you’re likely to get slapped with a fine. That’s right. It’s illegal to feed pigeons on the streets or sidewalks of the city.

I Can Believe It’s Not Butter

In Wisconsin, the serving of margarine in place of butter in public is illegal. Unless specifically requested, it cannot be placed at tables in restaurants, either.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Jimmy Tan

Keeping Cows Safe

Scotland has made sure its legal priorities are as straight as a Scott’s vision after a night at the pub. A law in this country says that a drunken man cannot be in possession of a cow. How obvious is that one?

Photo Modified: Flickr / Micolo J

A Moose Would Make for a Bad Beer Pong Buddy

Wikimedia Commons / Malene Thyssen

There are some glaringly obvious reasons why you wouldn’t want a moose on your team during a beer pong tournament, but it’s actually written law in Alaska that giving beer to a moose is illegal, according to the book The Field Guide to Drinking in America.

No Ketchup for You

Shutterstock / BW Folsom

In October 2011, France banned the use of ketchup in its schools. It seems that authorities in France saw ketchup as a threat to all things French and a form of American cultural hegemony at its worst (or tastiest?). “We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation,” said Christophe Hebert, chairman of the National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants and the person behind the ban.

No Watermelons Here

There is no better way to cool off from the hot summer sun than to bite into a juicy and refreshing watermelon, but don’t expect that kind of reprieve in Rio Claro, Brazil. Why? Because watermelon is prohibited, of course. Did you even have to ask?

Photo Modified: Flickr / Pink Sherbet Photography

Snack Wisely in Italy

Shutterstock / Guzel Studio

Planning on enjoying some gelato in le piazze, or squares, around Florence on your next vacation? Well, make sure you’re not breaking any laws in the process. It is against the law to eat and drink near public buildings and main churches. Better think twice before plopping down with a cone of stracciatella on those picturesque church steps.

Surprise Pizza? No Thanks

Shutterstock / Africa Studio

In Louisiana, you can be fined $500 if you instruct a delivery person to deliver food (“goods or services”) to somebody else’s house without them knowing. 

Swallow That Gum or Get a Fine

Did you know that chewing gum on Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) could land you with a hefty fine? The sale and chewing of gum in Singapore has been illegal for more than 20 years, but in 2004 the law changed, and citizens can now chew doctor-prescribed gum.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Randen Pederson

Your Most Expensive Piece of Gum

Littering is something we shouldn’t make a habit of, but every so often we are all guilty of spitting out our gum on the sidewalk. (It loses flavor, people!) Try doing that in Thailand and you’ll be faced with a fine of $600 or more — and you could go to jail if you don’t pay it. Maybe Singapore has the right idea in banning it altogether.

Photo Modified: Flickr / Michiel Jelijs