10 Banned Foods10. MOUNTAIN DEW
What is that secret ingredient that makes Mountain Dew so delicious? Well, aside from heaps of sugar, the answer is Brominated Vegetable Oil. Mmmm, sounds delicious. But what is Brominated Vegetable Oil you ask? All this fancy chemical does is keep that Dew in tip top shape during shipping by preventing the ingredients from separating out and it’s a little toxic. That’s right go to India, Japan, the UK, Germany, France, Sweden, Norway, in fact, go anywhere in the EU and Brominated Vegetable Oil is flat-out banned. One case documented in the journal Clinical Toxicology noted a man who consumed BVO-laced soda lost the ability to walk, developed memory loss and had the vision of his right eye obstructed. But this is all A-Okay in the USA and Canada, as long as levels are kept below 15 parts per million, you can poison yourself with Mountain Dew, Fanta Orange, Powerade or Sunkist Peach Soda. By the way we do have Mountain Dew in the UK, it just doesn’t taste as good apparently.
Sources: Bromism from Excessive Cola Consumption (B. Zane Horowitz, 1997), Mayo Clinic, San Diego Reader.
9. KINDER SURPRISE
A mystery toy that comes wrapped in delicious milk and white chocolate, is there anything more a man, ahem, I mean child, could wish for? I’ll level with you, I love Kinder Surprise eggs and that’s why I’m not only in disbelief that they have been banned in the Land of the Free, but I’m also very saddened. While Europe and even Canada enjoy these chocolatey presents, they have been banned in the USA since their inception. The culprit is the 1938 Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act which prohibits toys being ‘concealed’ inside a sweet. The fear is that a small child could choke on it – never mind that the small parts come inside a capsule and the egg itself is covered in age warnings. U.S. Customs and Border Protection take this seriously too. You can be fined $1,200 for each egg you try and bring over the border and the number seized was 60,000 in 2011 – a doubling of the previous year.
Sources: The Independent, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
8. CASU MARZU
Cheese connoisseurs the world over feel that the smelly stilton gets a bad rap, but Caus Marzu is off the stench scale. This freakish fromage is confined to a single island. As it’s banned by the EU, it remains restricted to the Italian island of Sardinia, only making its way to the mainland through the black market. And here’s why it’s so bad – you might want to pinch your noses. The cheese is made out of sheep’s milk and after about three weeks of curing, a hole is cut into the top and the cheese is left outside so that flies can lay their eggs inside. The cheese is then moved to a dark hut for a few months so that the eggs hatch into larvae which eat the cheese. It is the excrement that the maggots produce that give this cheese it’s famed flavor. The cheese is served with the maggots alive and wriggling inside. You spread some on a bit of bread and chow down with a glass of red wine. It’s apparently reminiscent of gorgonzola only, you know, more maggoty. Yeah, I think I’m fine with this ban.
Sources: Huffington Post.
Al- Shabaab are an Islamist militant group controlling much of southern Somalia and it’s been designated as a terrorist organization by the USA and UK. Its brand of fundamental Islam imposes the harshest measures found in Sharia Law: they’re happy with severing the hands of thieves and stoning adulterers to death. It should come as no surprise that they have controlling ideas when it comes to food too. In 2011, a Kenyan newspaper reported that members of Al-Shabaab took to proclaiming the prohibition of samosas through loudspeakers on the back of trucks. Even worse is the outlawing of these tasty triangles came in the middle of a famine. Apparently, the samosa’s shape resembles a Christian symbol and therefore is blasphemous to their strain of Islam. However, the BBC also reported it could be due to fears that they were being stuffed with cat meat.
Sources: BBC, Kenyan Daily Nation.
The notorious green beverage, known as the Green Fairy, way outlawed across France in 1915, and much of the world followed suit. The anise-flavor liquor was up to 74% pure alcohol, that’s nearly twice the strength of vodka, and brewed from the plant wormwood which contains the chemical Thujone. The supposedly hallucinogenic aspects of absinthe were attributed to this chemical. Perhaps, it is these reality bending properties that made the drink popular amongst artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Edouard Manet. Towards the end of the 20th Century, people’s attitudes began to relax and the EU lifted the ban on absinthe, provided the levels of Thujone were below a maximum of 35 milligrams per kilogram. France finally followed suit in 2011, as did other countries the world over. However, the previous French territory Vanuatu is not convinced by these safety measures and in 2006 voted to reaffirm the prohibition of absinthe in all its forms.
Ikizukuri, which means ‘prepared alive’ when translated from Japanese, is a type of sushi valued for its unparalleled freshness. That’s because this sushi is not dead. Although the fish is cut up and filleted, it is presented on a plate with its head whole, still breathing, while it twitches and moves its mouth. Ikizukuri is a cultural custom in Japan and restaurants often present a tank of live sea creatures that you can pick from. If you opt for squid, they don’t even cut it up and just give you a pair of chopsticks and wish you good luck. Now being skinned and having your flesh diced up, just so you can be eaten alive, is seen by many to be cruel. So when it looked like the trend was taking off overseas, Germany and Australia banned it outright.
Sources: The Times, The Telegraph, Digital Journal.
Singapore is a nation that values its cleanliness, kept in check, it seems, by the judicial system. Expelling mucus from the nose and spitting are criminalizable offenses, as is urinating anywhere other than a toilet. Singaporeans are even legally obligated to flush a public toilet after using it. Depending on your point of view this can either seem like an encroachment on civil liberties or utopian paradise. But did they take it too far when they banned gum outright in 1992? With nowhere to buy gum, the streets were soon sparkling clean. In 2004, a free trade agreement resulted in medical professionals being allowed to prescribe sugar-free gum as a therapeutic aid, but only if you had a prescription. Even so, walk around Singapore today and you’d be hard pressed to find anyone attempting to have a quick chew. There are still $700 fines if you don’t dispose of it quite correctly.
3. RAW MILK
Pasteurized milk is hardly a new invention, it was developed in 1864 by Louis Pasteur to kill harmful bacteria in the milk by heating at a specific temperature. Unpasteurized milk therefore, is the same as raw milk which possibly has all those harmful bacteria floating around. As a result, raw milk is banned everywhere from Canada to Australia, Scandinavia to Scotland, and 22 US states also ban it. The FDA claims that it can harbor listeriosis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria, and brucellosis. And as recently as 2014, a 3 year old Australian boy died from drinking raw milk. Case closed right? Well, it seems that as many countries still permit the selling and consumption of raw milk as those that oppose it. France loves the stuff and makes nearly a fifth of its cheeses from raw milk. It’s all good in New Zealand, Germany, England, Wales and northern Ireland. Advocates of raw milk protest that it’s possible to produce hygienically and therefore safely.
Sources: FDA, EFSA, FSA.
2. ORTOLAN BIRD
If Foie Gras is anything to go by, the French know a thing or two about sadistic culinary customs, and sadly for this tiny songbird it’s a little too delicious. The Ortolan bird can fit in the palm of your hand and so killing it without smashing it to bits poses a bit of a challenge. Traps are laid for the birds during the migratory season that see them confined to small boxes where they are fed grain, fattening them up to twice their normal size. Then once they are an ample enough serving, they are drowned in a tank of Armagnac brandy. The traditional way to eat the bird is by popping it in your mouth whole and crunching through the bones, guts and meat in one go. You keep hold of the feet and pull them back out – delicious. The French government banned hunting or selling the birds in 1999, but their numbers continued to drop by 30% over the next ten years. In 2007, they promised the EU that they would enforce the ban seriously.
Sources: The Telegraph, The Daily Mail.
1. WESTERN FOOD
In 2014, Crimea in the East of Ukraine was annexed by Russia after what the west suspected was a purposeful provocation. In response, the EU and UAS heaped sanctions on Russia freezing assets, banning specific business transactions and instituting an arms embargo. Russia retaliated reciprocally and banned imports of Western food and agricultural products. Russia had already introduced the ‘milk curtain’ in late 2013, banning European dairy products and specifically Ukrainian chocolate. But this embargo extended it to all fruit, vegetables and meat too. In August 2015, the New York Times ran a story that Vladimir Putin had ordered the destruction of hundreds of tons of food. Western port, tomatoes, peaches and cheeses that had been smuggled in were bulldozed, thrown into landfills or incinerated. Today, the ban still stands, and European countries are expected to have lost an estimated $100 billion in trade as a result. Companies will try just about anything to try to sell their products, but sometimes the boundaries are completely overstepped. From a racist skin whitening ad to a sexist hair removal campaign, stay tuned for.
Sources: New York Times, BBC, CNN, Newsweek.
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