Top 10 Food and Drinks Banned in the USA

After a vacation we are back with our next list. All over the world you can find certain foods and drinks that are banned from a country and for various reasons.  This is a list of the top 10 food and drinks that are banned in the USA.  The organization that controls the food in the US in the US Department of Agriculture and they ban certain items in the US for health reasons, sanctions or to protect a species.

#10 Absinthe

Absinthe is a distilled, highly alcoholic  (90-148 proof)beverage. It is an anise-flavoured spirit derived from botanicals, including the flowers and leaves of Artemisia absinthium (a.k.a. “grand wormwood”), together with green anise, sweet fennel, and other medicinal and culinary herbs.  Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland in the late 18th century. It arose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in late 19th- and early 20th-century France.  In 2007, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) effectively lifted the longstanding absinthe ban, and has since approved many brands for sale in the U.S. market.  The importation, distribution, and sale of absinthe is permitted with respect to the following restrictions:  The product must be thujone-free as per TTB guidelines. The word “absinthe” can neither be the brand name nor stand alone on the label. The packaging cannot “project images of hallucinogenic, psychotropic or mind-altering effects.”  Absinthe imported in violation of these regulations is subject to seizure at the discretion of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

#9 Ackee

Ackee is a fruit similar to the lychee that is native to tropical western Africa.  It was also imported to Jamaica in 1778.  It is the national fruit of Jamaica and common in a lot of Jamaican cuisine. The unripened or inedible portions of the fruit can be toxic as they contain the toxins hypoglycin A and hypoglycin B. The importing of canned ackee into the U.S. has at times been restricted due to unripe ackee arilli being included. However, it is currently allowed, provided that the amount of hypoglycin present meets the standards of the Food and Drug Administration.

#8 Pig’s Blood Cake

Ti-hoeh-koe, pig’s blood cake is made of pork blood and sticky rice.  It is a traditional Taiwanese dish.  The rice and blood are cooked together and then left to set up; the rice binds the blood. The end result is like a sausage without a skin.  This is then put on a stick and the street vendors cover the pigs blood cake with a layer of peanut powder and cilantro.  If you’re a fan of black pudding or blood sausage—and who isn’t?—then you will adore pork blood cake, which is sweet, warm, unctuous, and with a slight chewiness.  USDA has banned pig’s blood cake in the US due to sanitary reasons.

#7 Foie gras

Although not banned in the whole of the US, foie gras remains a controversial food and there most likely will be more areas in the US banning this ingredient in the future.  Foie gras involves the controversial force-feeding of birds with more food than they would eat in the wild, and more than they would voluntarily eat domestically. The feed, usually corn boiled with fat (to facilitate ingestion), deposits large amounts of fat in the liver, thereby producing the buttery consistency sought by some gastronomes.  At time of publishing this list Foie gras is banned in the State of California, City of Chicago and City of San Diego.

#6 Redfish

In 1980, New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme publicized his recipe for blackened redfish, which is still very popular today. The recipe was so popular that it sparked a blackened redfish craze in the 1980s, which so severely threatened the redfish stock that the Commerce Department had to step in and close down fishe­ries in July 1986 and limited the sale in order to help the regrowth of the Redfish population.  The term redfish applies to various species of scorpion fish and sciaenops occellatus.  The sale of redfish for profit is banned in all US states except Mississippi.

#5 Casu marzu

Carsu marzu is a traditional Sheep milk cheese found mainly in Sardinia, Italy.  The cheese is notable for containing live insect larvae.  The fermentation stage is brought about by the digestive action of the larvae of the cheese fly.  The larvae are deliberately introduced to the cheese, promoting an advanced level of fermentation and breaking down of the cheese’s fats.  Some people clear the larvae from the cheese before consuming while others do not.  Some call this cheese ‘maggot cheese’.  It is banned in the US because of health reasons and the maggots’ mouthhooks can severely damage stomach lining.

#4 Wild beluga caviar

The Beluga (huso huso) is the largest of all sturgeons (up to 6 meters/20 feet in length) and is the only carnivore, but unfortunately, because of aggressive modern fishing methods such a size seems extremely unlikely these days.  Because of its immense size, the Beluga caviar has the biggest eggs, which are the most highly prized for their large grain and fine skin. The egg color varies from light grey to nearly black.  Beluga caviar is protected as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. This law generally prohibits the import/export and interstate sale of listed species and products made from them. The United States banned the importation of beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea basin as of September 30, 2005, and from the Black Sea basin as of October 28, 2005. No beluga caviar from any country in these basins could be legally imported after these dates.

#3 Japanese Puffer Fish

In US restaurants and fish markets are banned from serving or selling puffer fish (also known as puffer, fugu, bok, blowfish, globefish, swellfish, balloonfish, or sea squab) unless they have a license to do so.  This is in order that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) can be sure that it is obtained from a safe source.  The puffer fish’s skin and its certain organs contain tetrodotoxin, an extremely poisonous neurotoxin which has the potential to paralyse a human by damaging or destroying nerve tissue and also lead to asphyxiation. Only a few milligrams of this toxin are enough for a fatal reaction to occur. However, it has been eaten for many years in Japan, where experts serve it as a delicacy.

#2 Haggis

Haggis is considered the National dish of Scotland.  Haggis is a savory dish containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.  Since 1971, it has been illegal to import haggis into the US from the UK due to a ban on food containing sheep lung, which constitutes 10 to 15% of the traditional recipe.The situation was further complicated in 1989 when all UK beef and lamb was banned from importation to the US due to the BSE crisis. In 2010, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Agriculture stated that they were reviewing the ban on beef and lamb products, but the ban on food containing sheep lung will remain in force.

#1 Unpasteurized milk

Pasteurization was first used in the United States in the 1890s after the discovery of germ theory to control the hazards of highly contagious bacterial diseases that was thought to be easily transmitted to humans through the drinking of raw milk.  When it was first used, pasteurization was thought to make raw milk from any source safer to consume. More recently, farm sanitation has greatly improved and effective testing has been developed making other approaches to ensuring safety of milk more feasible; however, pasteurization continues to be widely used to prevent infected milk from entering the food supply.  Most states impose restrictions on raw milk suppliers due to concerns about safety.

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