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24 Foreign Foods Banned in the US

Casu Marzu (Sardinia)

This cheese is made from Pecorino infested with maggots—and it's only good when the larvae are alive and writhing around. I think you can see the problem here! 

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Ackee Fruit (Belize, Jamaica, Haiti)

Under-ripe or unprocessed ackee is banned in the US because it contains the toxin hypoglycin, which can cause symptoms that range from vomiting to coma and death.

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Beluga Caviar (Russia)

The US banned imports of beluga caviar in an attempt to protect the beluga sturgeon from overfishing.

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Absinthe (Switzerland)

Absinthe is subject to FDA and Department of the Treasury regulations and must meet brand name and labeling standards. Bottles containing more than 10 mg/L of thujone (a chemical thought to give absinthe its powerful effects) is illegal to import. 

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Bushmeat (Various African Countries)

Bushmeat (which comes from various tropical animals) is prohibited in the United States because it provides a route for a number of diseases like Ebola and HIV to spread to humans. 

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Haggis (Scotland)

This pudding—made from sheep's heart, liver, and lungs mixed with onion, oatmeal, suet and spices then encased in animal stomach—has been banned in the US since 1971.

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Kangaroo Jerky (Australia)

Fresh, cured, dried, or fully cooked meat from most countries is generally prohibited in the United States. It is possible that customs will allow some jerky for your personal use, but don't count on it.

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Kinder Surprise Eggs (Italy)

It's that little toy surprise inside that causes these eggs to be seized by US Customs—federal law prohibits non-edible objects from being embedded in food.

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Mirabelle de Lorraine Plums (France)

This particular variety is banned in the US because of a trade agreement with France, where the plum has protected status.

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Ortolan (France)

This tiny bird cannot be imported into the United States. A ban was imposed after a large population decline of the species during the 1960s.

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Pig's Blood Cake (Taiwan)

This mixture of pig's blood and rice on a popsicle stick is banned because the USDA deems its preparation unsanitary. 

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Rice (India)

Non-commercial imports of uncooked rice are prohibited from any country designated by the USDA as having an infestation of the khapra beetle, including India. 

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Sea Turtles (Mexico)

Sea turtles are an endangered species—selling their meat or eggs or soup made from them is strictly prohibited in the United States.

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West Indian Locust (Belize, Guatemala)

Like other fruits and vegetables, these woody, toe-like, and highly fragrant fruit pods are subject to inspection and are often not allowed into the US.

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Tomatoes (via Canada)

Fresh tomatoes grown in any country other than the US, Canada, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic cannot be imported through Canada into the United States. 

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Black Pudding (Scotland)

While it’s possible to find black pudding in some areas of the United States, it’s illegal to import authentic black pudding from its native land--Scotland. Variants of the dish can be found across the globe, which consists of congealed blood and filler inside of sausage casings. 

Foie Gras (France)

While there is not a blanket ban on foie gras in the United States, several individual states do have laws banning its sale--such as California. Critics of the decadent French dish (which is a fatty duck liver) argue that the force feeding necessary to increase fat content in the animals is cruel and inhumane. 

Shark Fin Soup (China)

While shark fin soup is a common dish in China, its sale and consumption are illegal in the United States. This is largely because of cruel method of obtaining the fins, which involves removing them and tossing the sharks back into the ocean. 

Puffer Fish (Japan)

Puffer fish is strictly regulated in the United States. Chefs must undergo extensive training to handle the fish, which means that restaurants that serve it in the US are a rarity. This is largely because, if prepared incorrectly, puffer fish can be deadly poisonous--and there’s currently no known antidote. 

Horse Meat (Various)

Consuming horse meat is technically not illegal in the United States. But on a practical level it has been prohibited, since the slaughter of horses is a crime. Unless you plan on chowing down on a live horse, you’re out of luck. 

Bushmeat (Various)

Bushmeat is a catchall term for the meat of any wild animal found in the tropics--these commonly include lizards, primates, wild cats, elephants and many others. Bushmeat is illegal to import into the country for two reasons. For one, these animals can carry diseases, like Ebola or HIV. And two, these animals are often poached illegally, and their numbers are threatened by the bushmeat trade. 

Queen Conch (The Caribbean)

While the beautiful queen conch is widely available in the Caribbean, it’s illegal to fish for them in federal waters controlled by the United States. In addition to being eaten, these mollusks are often used for decorative purposes as well. 

Mangosteen (Thailand)

Mangosteen is a popular fruit in Thailand, but until 2007, its import to the United States was completely banned. This was due to fears of bringing the Asian fruit fly into the country. While imports are now allowed, all mangosteen must be irradiated to remove the risk of flies. 

Sassafras Oil (Brazil)

Sassafras trees grow in the United States, but certain varieties are also present in Brazil. No matter the source, though, it’s illegal to possess sassafras oil in the US because of its status as a known carcinogen and because of the role it plays in the production of the illegal drug MDMA.