There is nothing worse than living or traveling abroad and being denied a favored food fix from home not just because it's hard to find, but because it is outright banned.
It is true that foods are banned around the world for a plethora of reasons, some for more concerning reasons than others. In many a country, foods are banned because of legitimate health concerns; maybe one of the ingredients turns out to be a carcinogen, or maybe a new study just finds that it’s not great for kids. Maybe there’s been a new outbreak of swine or bird flu, and the food uses ingredients from potentially infected animals.
Yet foods can also be banned from certain countries because of cultural taboos. In the United States, we consider dogs and horses to be pets, so we don’t eat them — for the most part. In many other countries, dogs aren’t considered pets, but are also considered “unclean,” and as such, aren’t seen to be fit for human consumption. So yes, there are plenty of countries that consume both dog and horse meat without any real hesitation.
Other times, countries may ban a food because the acquisition of that food is considered unsustainable. Maybe it’s a certain type of endangered fish that has had its numbers diminished by overfishing, or maybe it’s a type of livestock that is particularly damaging to the environment. In other cases still, they may ban a food because the methods used to get the food are considered unethical or inhumane — maybe they have to put the animal through some sort of torture or extreme discomfort in order to get whatever it is they want, and have decided as a culture that animal’s well-being is important to them.
Whatever the reason, societies ban foods. They all do it, even if there isn’t necessarily consistency from nation to nation.Some places ban pork, some ban cow, some ban eating fellow humans, others don’t ban any of the above. The reasons are varied and sometimes weird.
Here are some of the foods that are currently banned around the world.
1. Mac and Cheese
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.
2. Foie Gras
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.
4. Chewing Gum
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.
See more foods you can't eat in every country.
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