10 Foods and Drinks Banned in America

10 Foods and Drinks Banned in America

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Just because it’s edible, doesn't mean it’s legal

The Taiwanese food-specialty 'pig’s blood cake,' is banned in America.

At one moment or another, we have probably all said it: "I would never eat that!"

Just as people around the world have different customs and beliefs, we also all have different food preferences and different ideas as to what we consider "weird" or downright "disgusting." Culture and traditions in different countries also dictate what types of foods generally are considered delicacies, and so while people in China may enjoy chicken feet, many Americans would shrug away a plate of these crispy bites. But with some foods and drinks, it is more than just a question of preference: Countries all over the world have their own lists of edible items that are banned from being imported or consumed.

Click here to see the 10 Foods and Drinks Banned in America (Slideshow)

There has been much talk about the U.S. government allowing Americans to consume ingredients that are banned in other countries, many of which are potentially harmful to our health. But on the other side of it, there are several food items other countries happily eat, which in the United States are put on the "No" list.

Federal and state governments in the States have either fully or partially banned several items, some of which might seem obvious — like the deadly Japanese blowfish — while others, quite surprising. Until this year, the popular European Kinder Surprise toy-filled chocolate egg was banned in the U.S., as the government thought the hidden toy was too dangerous for children. The legality of other items is still being debated: Formerly banned horse meat is slowly finding its way back to the legal side of meat industy, while the sought-after delicacy foie gras has been banned in California.

Are you eager to know more foods and drinks that are banned in America? Click here to see our slideshow of 10 Foods and Drinks Banned or Restricted in America.

10 American Foods that are Banned in Other Countries Hot

Americans are slowly waking up to the sad fact that much of the food sold in the US is far inferior to the same foods sold in other nations. In fact, many of the foods you eat are BANNED in other countries.

Here, I’ll review 10 American foods that are banned elsewhere.

Seeing how the overall health of Americans is so much lower than other industrialized countries, you can’t help but wonder whether toxic foods such as these might play a role in our skyrocketing disease rates.

The Problem with FDA Regulation


As much as we would like to believe that everything on store shelves is delicious, good for us, and safe, the truth is not always so reassuring. In fact, the food supply in the U.S. (and many other nations, too) is full of chemical flavorings, additives, colorings, and other ingredients that you may not want to put in your body. Before we start naming names, let’s explore how the U.S. government could let this happen.

For starters, the FDA states that food companies can market new chemicals and food additives WITHOUT FDA oversight or approval, so long as “the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe… ”

This is known as the GRAS system, and it might sound all well and good. But what makes someone a “qualified expert”? And how are they able to determine which chemicals food companies can add to the food we feed our children? It turns out that these companies often convene their own “expert” panels to decide whether the ingredient will pose harm. And many of these panels contain scientists with financial ties to all manner of industries – even including the tobacco industry (“experts” who may have, at one time, recommended that cigarettes were safe!) . Based on the panel’s recommendations, companies then decide whether or not to share the results of the assessment with the FDA. They don’t even have to do so!

Most of the chemicals on the GRAS list have never had long-term testing on humans, and therefore can’t possibly be guaranteed safe. And some of them don’t stand up to the test of time, either. For example, BHA is “generally recognized as safe” – despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program concluded that BHA can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

And then there are artificial trans fats , which have historically been on the GRAS list and added to foods like frozen pizza, peanut butter , packaged snack foods, vegetable shortenings, and ready-to-use frostings to improve their flavor, texture, and shelf life. Unfortunately, we later learned that trans fats were causing upwards of 500,000 deaths per year from associated heart disease.

In 2015, the FDA finally decided that trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, were unsafe , giving food manufacturers a few years to remove them from the food supply. Since the ban took place, many food companies have replaced trans fats with ingredients like palm oil instead, which comes with its own set of concerns .

6 foods legal in the US that are banned in other countries

Ever noticed how ingredients on your packaged foods don't always sound, well, like food?

Chances are, if the ingredient is not something you'd stock in your home kitchen, it's a preservative or artificial additive to boost the flavor, color or texture of whatever you're about to eat.

If you were cooking a recipe calling for an ingredient you didn't like or had heard potentially dangerous information about, you would probably cut out that ingredient, right? Such a luxury doesn't exist with packaged foods, though. In places like the European Union, legislature has banned additives that are potentially dangerous, while in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration is still totally cool with them.

When it comes to reading ingredient lists, perhaps the best advice comes from food scholar Michael Pollan, who wrote in The Omnivore's Dilemma — and has since reiterated many, many times — don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. Abstaining from the food Europeans don't recognize as food may be another good rule to follow, because our foods are still full of ingredients banned across the pond.

Beef: Synthetic growth hormones

Synthetic growth hormones rBGH and rBST were approved for use in cows by the FDA in 1993 and the federal agency hasn't looked back. Not only do dairy cows injected with these hormones suffer from significant health problems (some of which are treated by administering antibiotics to the cows) and birth defects due to the hormones, but products for human consumption from rBGH and rBST cows do not need to be labeled as such. The European Commission banned hormones in livestock in 1981 and continues to not allow them.

Colorful foods: Artificial dyes

Food dyes like Yellow 5, Yellow 6 and Red 40, used to make unappealing food look more edible and enticing, have been found to cause hyperactivity in otherwise healthy children and carry allergy and cancer risks as well. The FDA approves the use of color additives in food, despite the fact these additives can also make unhealthy foods look appealing (think rainbow candies and red-tinted salmon flesh) and carry additional health risks. Many American food companies remove their dyes in overseas products, like M&M sold in the E.U., opting for natural coloring, but keep the dyes in the products for American consumers. In 2015, Kraft removed its Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 dyes from its iconic orange macaroni and cheese dinner in favor of natural coloring agents like paprika and annatto, setting a new standard for American food producers to cut the dyes from their products.

Soft drinks: Brominated vegetable oil (BVO)

Banned in places like Europe and Japan, BVO is a totally acceptable ingredient for Americans to ingest in their sodas and soft drinks. But what is BVO exactly? It's a chemical derived from vegetable oil that keeps citrus flavoring from separating in packaged beverages. Overexposure to bromine and brominated chemicals has been linked to memory loss and nerve disorders, though BVO is used in such small quantities in beverages, no conclusive studies have yet found its direct correlation with health disorders. In 2014, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo both vowed to remove BVO from their ingredients lists, in favor of more natural ingredients, but the FDA still considers BVO a safe ingredient. And, Mountain Dew still has brominated vegetable oil in its ingredients list as of February 2017. Here's another place you'll find BVO: Flame retardant.

Cereal and bread: Azodicarbonamide (ADA)

Azodi-what? Also known as the yoga mat chemical (you'll find azodicarbonamide in commercially baked bread and yoga mats), this chemical additive is a whitening agent and dough conditioner that the FDA considers safe for food uses including cereal flour and bread dough. Does bread need ADA in order to taste good? Of course not, but that's not going to stop large manufacturers from using this additive that helps keep their enormous quantities of food light and strong, just like yoga mats!

ADA is banned in Europe, but it is found in almost 500 common American grocery store and chain restaurant foods, despite the World Health Organization linking the potential carcinogen to diease. Subway phased out the ingredient in 2014 after national uproar about ADA in sandwich chain's bread, and while chains like Wendy's and McDonald's followed suit in removing the chemical from their menus, it's still FDA approved and totally legal.

Poultry, water and more: Arsenic

We know what you're thinking, this can't mean arsenic, like, the poison? Arsenic the poison is in our food?! Yes, yes it is. Arsenic, which can be naturally found in soil and water and absorbed by plants is currently under review by the FDA, which is aware of the risks long-term exposure to arsenic can trigger, including cancer and heart disease. Arsenic is one of the World Health Organization's top 10 chemicals of public health concern, and even in the U.S., drinking water, crops irrigated with arsenic-contaminated water and food prepared with contaminated water can make fish, shellfish, meat, poultry, dairy products and cereals all sources of arsenic in your diet. In the European Union, Japan and beyond, arsenic is also banned in livestock feed, though the FDA defends low quantities of arsenic found in poultry and other foods.

"Low fat" chips and more: Olestra

Named one of Time's 50 Worst Inventions, the FDA-approved Olestra is a calorie-free, fat-free, cholesterol-free chemical created to remove a need for fattening cooking oil but still bring the flavor to traditionally fatty foods like chips and fries. Sound too good to be true? Obviously, it is. You'll find Olestra in diet versions of food products like including chips, frozen yogurt and more.

Olestra been linked to gastrointestinal disease in children, terrible diarrhea in adults and has also been found to increase appetite, completely negating its potential fat-free benefits. You'll still find Olestra, sometimes referred to by its brand name Olean, in American foods, but it's banned in Canada and European countries.

If you're attempting to Google a mysterious ingredient and your autocorrect doesn't recognize it, perhaps take that as a sign this human-created substance isn't something natural you want to be putting in your body.

4. Potassium bromate (or bromated flour): Great for impatient bakers, bad for your kidneys and nervous system.

Found in: Wraps, rolls, bread crumbs, bagel chips, flat breads.

Why it's dangerous: Derived from the same harmful chemical as brominated vegetable oil, brominated flour is used to decrease baking time and reduce costs. Only problem is, it's linked to kidney damage, cancer, and nervous system damage.

Where it's banned: Europe, Canada, and China.

4. Farmed salmon

Salmon has so many great health benefits thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids packed in there. Unfortunately, this is only true if you buy wild salmon. Farmed salmon isn’t really doing anything. Farm-raised salmon are banned in countries like Australia and New Zealand because they are raised on an unnatural diet of grains and icky drugs like antibiotics. These additives leave the salmon with gray skin, and then that gets made to look pink with synthetic astaxanthin. This doesn’t sound great, because it isn’t. Synthetic astaxanthin can be toxic.

Wild salmon, meanwhile, is naturally a bright pink-red color thanks to their more natural diet. If you want to continue to enjoy salmon, spend the extra money on wild salmon or Alaskan sockeye, which is not allowed to be farmed.

Picture credit: The Disgusting Food Museum

Kale Pache is a traditional dish common to countries including Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Bulgaria and Mongolia. It refers to stew made from boiled cow or sheep parts, which could include the head, feet and stomach. Variations of the dish exist from country to country. In Iran and Afghanistan, the dish is made with a sheep’s head, including the brain, and trotters, seasoned with lemon and cinnamon. Its typically eaten for breakfast.

1. Farm-Raised Salmon

We have explained for so many times how fish is really healthy for you and if you decided to add it to your shopping list and maximize the health benefits from the fish you eat, then try to stay away from farmed fish, especially farmed salmon.

This type is often fed with dangerous chemicals. The bright pinkish-red color wild salmon has comes from the natural carotenoids they eat. On the other hand, farmed salmon are raised in a completely different way.

The unnatural diet of grains (including genetically engineered varieties) is the worst part of it, and not to mention that a concoction of antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals are added to their food, and none of these have shown to be safe for people.

This diet regimen makes its flesh unappetizing and grayish, so to improve the appearance, farmed salmon are fed with synthetic astaxanthin made from petrochemicals. This substance has not been approved for human consumption and it also contains some toxicities that are well known to the public.

Where it is banned: Australia and New Zealand

You probably wonder how could you possibly know whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised? Wild sockeye salmon has bright red flesh, which comes due to its natural astaxanthin content.

It is also very lean, and the fat marks -- the white stripes you see across the meat, are very thin. If the fish you are about to buy is pale pink and its fat marks are wide, then you know that the salmon is farmed.

You also want to avoid Atlantic salmon, because typically salmon which is labeled as “Atlantic Salmon” is raised in fish farms. When buying salmon, there are two designations you want to look for: “Alaskan salmon,” and “sockeye salmon”.

Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed, which is why you can be sure that this fish is all healthy and naturally fed. And, yes, please start realizing the fact that the vast majority of the salmon you eat in restaurants is farm raised.

Now you know that canned salmon labeled as “Alaskan Salmon” is a good choice, and if you could possibly find any sockeye salmon, you are more than guaranteed that the fish is wild and healthy.

Again, you can differ sockeye salmon from other salmon according to its color sockeye salmon is bright red opposed to pink, due to its superior astaxanthin content. Moreover, when compared to other foods, regarding the concentration of astaxanthin, sockeye salmon actually has one of the highest concentrations.

Instant Mashed Potatoes


The next time you go for another serving of instant mashed potatoes, like Hungry Jack Mashed Potatoes, just know you're also getting a side of Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA). The preservative can be found in everything from cereal and potato chips to chewing gum and beer. But considering it's also in rubber and wax food packaging, it doesn't seem like anything you'd want to put in your body. While it's commonly used in the U.S., it's been banned in the Europe Union, Japan, Australia, and other countries for potentially being a human carcinogen.

13. Cider

You can certainly buy the drink in America, but there are far less brands available compared to the UK, which is famed for its wide selection of home brewed ciders.

Peter Jacobs, news editor at BI US said: "In the states, when you’re getting cider it’s always apple, or if you want variety maybe you can find pear. Here, the amount of different types of cider is staggering and seems to make the drink a little more widely accepted. For the Americans: try the passion fruit.”

Popular British brands include Old Rosie, a flat, cloudy and strong (7.3%) cider, Aspalls, a fizzy and sweet variety from Suffolk, and Bulmers, one of the UK's best selling bottled ciders.