8 Foods You May Get Arrested for Eating

8 Foods You May Get Arrested for Eating

What foods could possibly be considered so harmful that they are actually banned in the US?  Certainly, if poisonous plants like perilous potatoes or nefarious nutmeg are so popular, other foods can't be that bad, right?  It might surprise you that even some of the most innocent of overseas treats might make you a would-be smuggler!


Absinthe Grapes and Grains NYC

"The Green Fairy", a spirit concocted from herbs such as wormwood, was so sought-after in French bars, bistros, and cabarets in the 1800s, that by the 1860s, 5 pm was sometimes called l'heure verte ("the green hour").  In 1915, it was banned in the US because it contained high amounts of thujone, a chemical compound that causes seizures and other psychoactive ailments.  Currently, versions of absinthe with less than 100 parts per million of thujone are legally allowed in the US, though most are also heavily diluted with water.

Unpasteurized Milk

Milking Cow Pitch

Before the implementation of pasteurization techniques in the 1890s, fresh, raw milk was a household staple.  It was later banned in 22 US states to prevent the transmission of bovine bacterial diseases to humans, in addition to e. coli, listeria, and salmonella.  Proponents of raw milk argue that current standards in farm sanitation make the unpasteurized liquid safe to drink, however the bans continue because of ongoing concern from the FDA.


True Scottish haggis is made with a sheep's heart, liver, and lungs minced with other herbs and spices, simmered in a sheep stomach for several hours.  Despite being a popular European delicacy, it's had a longstanding ban in the US because it contains sheep's lung, which researches say contain copious "stomach contents, lesions and bacteria."  The Scottish government opposes this ban on sheep's lung, stating that haggis is not haggis without it.  Considering haggis contains approximately 10-15% sheep's lung, they may have a point.

Wild Beluga Caviar

Beluga Caviar

Because Beluga Sturgeon were becoming endangered in the Caspian sea, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service banned its importation in 2005.  The ban was lifted in 2007 with restrictions that allowed 96 tons of it to be sold throughout the world at incredibly steep prices.  If you're itching to try it, be prepared for a dent to your paycheck.  Of course, you can always buy farm-raised caviar and spare your wallet some strife.

Sassafras Oil

Sassafras used to be a very common ingredient in herbal remedies, teas, and root beer.  It was banned in the 1960s due to its possibly carcinogenic nature, as determined by lab rat experiments in which the rats given sassafras often contracted liver cancer.  Ingredients made from sassafras are also banned, particularly safrole - an oil extracted from the plant's root or fruit - which is the primary precursor to the creation of MDMA, also known as ecstasy.

Casu Marzu

Casu Marzu, like other unpasteurized cheeses, is banned from the US for similar reasons as milk.  However, in addition to being unpasteurized, Casu Marzu - a traditional Sardinian pecorino cheese - is also teeming with thousands of live maggots.  (Diners are suggested to cover their eyes as they eat it to avoid jumping larvae).  It's banned in many places because the maggots' mouthhooks can severely damage stomach lining.

Kinder Eggs

These popular European chocolate eggs are banned from importation into the United States because they contain "non-nutritive objects" inside of them - namely, toys.  Inside of every delightful hollow $2.00 chocolate kinder egg is a cute, surprise toy that has been deemed "unsafe" for children under 3 years old.  In 2010, Customs and Border Protection seized over 25,000 eggs from personal bags or at mail and express consignment facilities, with particular vigilance around Easter.

Horse Meat

Eating horse meat is considered taboo in many countries because they are often considered "sport animals" and pets rather than as a source of protein - in fact, it is this classification that make horse slaughter and consumption prohibited in both the US and the UK.  We sure hope this law is strictly adhered to!

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Photo Credits (top to bottom): Grapes and Grains NYC, Pitch, Belfast Telegraph, Sam Cooks, Root-Beer, TopYaps, Discover Italian Food, National Geographic