Raw Milk and Other Odd Foods That Are Banned in the U.S.

The FDA regulates nearly everything Americans consume. Some foods are considered dangerous, some practices are inhumane, and some animals consumed are now endangered. Whatever the reason, certain foods are no longer allowed in the United States. Read on to find out which ones and why.

Raw milk

1000 liter steel refrigerated vat for keeping fresh raw milk.

Raw milk can be quite dangerous. | Shakzu/iStock/Getty Images

The U.S. government does not allow the sale of raw milk for human consumption, although the individual states have put different laws in place. Only 19 U.S. states fully outlaw the sale of raw milk. The remaining 31 states have some sort of law that allows it, but those laws differ. Sales can only occur within state lines, since raw milk is not regulated by the FDA. The FDA does not approve of the consumption of raw milk due to the potential for milk-borne disease.

Next: These chocolate treats are a big hit in Europe.

Kinder Surprise eggs

Kinder Surprise egg on purple background.

These nostalgic candies are banned in the United States. | Ekaterina79/iStock/Getty Images

These part tasty, part toy eggs have been outlawed since the 1930s because they violate U.S. food safety laws. These eggs contain inedible objects, so the U.S. deems them unsafe for consumption. The plastic toy in the center is a choking hazard for children, according to the FDA. In 2011, more than 60,000 Kinder eggs were seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. For now, you’ll have to cross the border to get your Kinder egg fix.

Next: This U.S. tree is hiding a carcinogen

Sassafras oil

Oil pouring on a white background.

You might want to steer clear of the oil anyways. | iStock.com

Sassafras is a tree that is native to the Eastern U.S. Its oil is labeled as a carcinogenic substance because it contains safrole. When tested, it caused liver cancer in rats and has been outlawed by the FDA. The oil claims to reduce inflammation and treat rheumatoid arthritis, among other things, but none of its uses are backed by any significant studies.

Next: Known as “fugu” in Japanese culture, this fish is potentially deadly.

Japanese puffer fish

A fishmerman holds a puffer fish.

The Japanese puffer fish makes for a very poisonous meal. | iStock.com

Puffer fish contain a deadly toxin that only trained professionals know how to remove. The U.S. bans any personal importation of the fish. Restaurants can only purchase the fish from one manufacturer in the country, Wako International, for safety reasons. Signs of consuming the poison are weakness, fatigue, and trouble breathing. Most victims die from respiratory complications.

Next: This endangered fish is only profitable in one U.S. state

Redfish

Redfish caught on Texas Gulf Coast.

Redfish has become an endangered species to due overconsumption. | Steve Clever/iStock/Getty Images

This type of fish has been endangered for more than 30 years. The U.S. banned the sale of redfish in 49 states, but most states do allow regulated personal use. Mississippi is the only state that allows profit sale of the fish. Redfish became popular in the 1980s when chefs started to serve a similar recipe to that created by New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme. The dish became such a craze that the U.S. had to mark the fish as endangered.

Next: This savory dish contains banned animal organs. 

Haggis

Haggis on a plate wish a side dish.

Haggis can be a risky option. | iStock.com

This savory Scottish pudding was banned in the U.S. in 1971 because of its ingredients. The pudding contains sheep’s pluck, which is the heart, liver, and lungs of the sheep. The FDA banned the consumption of sheep’s lung due to concerns of food borne illness. Fluid from the slaughter can enter the lungs of the sheep and might not get fully cleaned out before the lungs are used for cooking, posing a risk to those who consume the pudding.

Next: This part of the animal is typically found in soup. 

Shark fins

Shark Fin soup on a white bowl.

Shark Fin soup is considered a delicacy. | Johannes EiseleAFP/Getty Images

In 2000, President Bill Clinton signed the Shark Finning Prohibition Act, which made it illegal to “fin” sharks. When finned, sharks are captured, fins are cut off, then sharks are returned to the ocean without them. Clinton enforced that all sharks must be brought to land with fins attached. However, loopholes in the system allowed finning to continue. In 2008, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued strong regulations to help completely stop finning in the U.S. Shark fins are typically used in soup.

Next: The FDA considers consumption of this meat inhumane. 

Horse meat

Wild horses on a flat land.

There are laws and regulations against selling and consuming horse meat. | George Frey/Getty Images

The horse meat debate is a foggy one. The USDA requires the Food Safety and Inspection Service to inspect animals for slaughter; this helps ensure that no horse meat is consumed. Also, the U.S. does not allow horse meat to be imported into the country for U.S. consumption. However, it’s not so much a food safety issue as it is a society issue. Society deems it “unacceptable” to eat horse meat; similar to the way society won’t eat dogs or cats. Some people are largely in favor of horse slaughtering because they believe it is more humane than the way the animals are treated now. It’s been an ongoing debate for years.

Next: You don’t want to know what’s crawling around in this snack. 

Casu marzu

Larvae and cheese seen close up.

You won’t find this in your local supermarket. | YouTube

This Sardinian cheese is a specialty overseas, however its unsanitary development is what makes it illegal in the U.S. The cheese is only made when fly larvae are introduced to Pecorino. This speeds up fermentation, because the larvae hatch and eat through the cheese to soften it. The cheese is deemed safe if it is consumed while the maggots are still alive, but the U.S. says, “No thanks.”

Next: After a 95-year ban, this alcohol is finally back on the market. 

Absinthe

Absinthe seen on a silver spoon.

Large amounts of absinthe can be dangerous. | Augustproject/Getty Images

This liquor was once extremely popular in the early 20th century, but suffered a nearly 100-year ban in the United States before it was re-introduced in 2007. The reason for its ban stemmed from thujone, an ingredient that is considered a hallucinogen. People blamed murders and careless acts on the drink, and soon it was outlawed. However, it has since become known that absinthe does not contain enough thujone to cause such disaster; it is only dangerous in large amounts.

Next: Native to Jamaica, this fruit has very strict regulations. 

Ackee fruit

Ackee fruit on a wooden floor.

You won’t find this fruit easily. | Scott Craig/Getty Images

This fruit is very common in the Caribbean, but if it is not prepared properly, there can be serious side effects. Ackee contains hypoglycin A, which can lead to comatose or death if consumed. Not all canners treat the fruit properly before canning it; the fruit needs to be boiled more than once to ensure safety. The FDA bans consumption or importation of any ackee fruits that are not retrieved from a “green list” supplier, which is a list of firms that have demonstrated food safety with the fruit.

Next: This delicacy costs a whopping $200 per ounce. 

Wild beluga caviar

Beluga Caviar on a white bowl.

Beluga Caviar is banned and not available. | Thor/Wikimedia Commons

This particular caviar does not come cheap. At $200 per ounce, it’s extremely luxurious, and very lucrative. As a result, the whale has become severely endangered, and the U.S. has put a ban on the pricey delicacy. Overfishing has driven the beluga whale population in the Caspian Sea to decline by 90% over 20 years.

Next: This European fruit holds an air of mystery. 

Mirabelle plums

Mirabelle plums on a tree branch.

We wonder what they taste like. | Chagidiel

The Mirabelle plum ban is mysterious. The truth behind the import laws of this forbidden fruit have never totally been revealed. We do know that the plum hails from Lorraine, France, which is a very small region in the country, so it’s possible the plums are simply too difficult to acquire on U.S. soil. Many websites blame “bizarre” import laws as the reason behind the ban.

Next: Inhumane practices led California to ban this dish. 

Foie Gras

Foie Gras being scooped from a jar.

This delicacy is banned in California. | Lunamarina/Getty Images

California put a ban on foie gras after activists brought it to the attention of the public. While foie gras may be delicious, it can only be made by force-feeding ducks and geese in order to enlarge their livers. The birds have a tube stuck down their throat and are forcibly fed large amounts of food to get the liver to expand up to 10 times its normal size. PETA activists managed to get California to finally eliminate foie gras from its menus, and they’ve been working on other states ever since.

Next: Arkansas outlawed this snack after multiple children were hospitalized. 

Lazy Cakes

In 2011, Lazy Cakes caused uproar when the melatonin-laced brownies sent multiple children to the hospital after consumption. The treats are technically legal since melatonin is a dietary supplement that isn’t regulated by the FDA. However, they contain about 25 times the normal dose of melatonin given to an adult, which can be very dangerous for a child. Arkansas and Massachusetts both made moves to ban the tiresome food.

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