Food production is heavily regulated throughout the world, so much so that many governments have banned particular things. Sometimes that’s to keep consumers safe, but other times the reasons are kind of bizarre.
Americans still eat foods that many other countries have banned, but are mistrustful of exotic cuisines from abroad. Conversely, many other countries have banned food additives and genetically modified produce that Americans eat all the time.
We have collected 11 of the strangest and most interesting banned foods, along with the reasons why you won’t find them at the grocery store in certain locations. You’ll find #2 surprising, but just try to read #6 without getting queasy!
Haggis is the national dish of Scotland, but a main ingredient of haggis – sheep lung – has been banned in the United States. Haggis includes sheep lung, liver, and heart combined with onion, oatmeal, suet, and spices. The ingredients are all cooked together in the sheep’s stomach.
Sheep’s lungs are banned in the U.S. because sometimes stomach acid or phlegm makes its way up into the lungs during slaughter. Though this problem is easily fixed by parboiling the lungs prior to use for food, the USDA has no interest in reversing the ban despite pressure from British politicians.
2. Chewing Gum
Americans chew a lot of gum, and it can be a problem when they don’t dispose of it correctly. There is probably no public table in the country that doesn’t have at least a wad or two pressed underneath it. It’s gross, but the sale of gum is too profitable to stop.
In Singapore, however, a country known for its cleanliness, they aren’t having it. Chewing gum was banned in 1992 in order to help keep the streets free of sticky detritus. The penalty for violating the ban is steep – get caught selling gum in Singapore and you could get up to 2 years in prison or a fine of $1,000.
3. Farm-raised Salmon
Salmon raised in overcrowded farms is unhealthy because the fish are fed unnatural diets full of antibiotics and smaller fish that are often contaminated with toxins. Eating farm-raised salmon can cause damage to human eyesight and is even a known carcinogen.
Unfortunately, the majority of salmon on the market in the U.S. is farm raised. However, one U.S. state – Washington – has banned it. Farm-raised salmon is banned entirely in Australia and New Zealand.
4. Genetically Engineered Papaya
Genetically engineered food is a controversial topic in many circles. Opponents are concerned that messing with nature can have negative health effects, while proponents insist that GMO foods are better able to resist harmful diseases. Papaya grown in the U.S. is especially controversial, with upwards of 60% of it modified to resist the ringspot virus.
The European Union has banned the import of all genetically modified crops, but Japan and South Korea specifically avoid our papaya. The U.S. maintains that the modification literally saved the papaya industry.
The fruit embargo goes both ways. The United States may have trouble unloading its papaya, but it refuses to import ackee, the national fruit of Jamaica. Ackee is totally safe to eat, but only if it is ripened properly. Unripe ackee contains a high level of hypoglycin A and B, which are toxins that can cause vomiting, coma, and even death.
As of the year 2000, frozen or canned ackee is okay to be imported from a select few manufacturers, but fresh ackee is still banned.