14 foods that are banned in the U.S.


In the United States, we enjoy all kinds of foods grown on American soil and all around the world. And while our choices might seem endless, you may not realize there are many foods from other parts of the world that have been banned. 

Foods are banned for different reasons, including potential health risks, protecting endangered species, or protecting corporate interests. Let’s take a look at some of the banned foods in the U.S. and why they’re not allowed. 


1. Kinder Surprise Eggs

Kinder Surprise Eggs are a popular treat in Europe that contained the toy inside of the candy, but they’re banned in the U.S. because of laws stating that edible foods can’t contain inedible items due to choking concerns. Another version, Kinder Joy, is a legal alternative. The packaging separates the toy and the candy, so it’s FDA-compliant. 

2. Shark Fins

Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China. While shark meat isn’t illegal in the U.S., twelve states have banned the sale of fins due to the inhumane manner in which fishermen obtain them

3. Ackee fruit

The ackee fruit is the national fruit of Jamaica and is used in a variety of dishes on the island. Improperly ripened fruits contain toxins that can release too much glucose into your bloodstream, causing your blood sugar to drop to fatal levels. The risk causes ackee to be banned in the U.S. 

4. Haggis

Haggis is a traditional dish in Scotland consisting of a mixture of sheep heart, liver, lung, and other ingredients packed into a sheep’s stomach. The dish has been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s due to regulations stating that livestock lung can’t be used in human food. 

5. Fugu

While it’s a delicacy in Japan, it’s illegal to serve fugu in the U.S. except for in a small number of restaurants. The fish contains toxins that, if not dealt with properly, can cause severe illness or death. A chef needs to hold a special license to prepare and serve it.

6. Raw milk

The milk you buy in grocery stores is pasteurized to kill bacteria. Raw milk doesn’t undergo the pasteurization process and is therefore more than 150 times more likely to contain harmful bacteria. Its sale is banned in several states across the country. 

7. Absinthe

Absinthe was banned in the U.S. until 2007. While the country now allows its importation, the drink must not contain the psychoactive ingredient thujone. 

8. Pig’s blood cake

Pig’s blood cake is a street snack served in Taiwan. It consists of sticky rice and — you guessed it — pig’s blood. It’s banned in the U.S. due to the health-related concerns of using animal blood as an ingredient. 

9. Horse meat

Technically, eating horse meat isn’t illegal in the U.S., but there’s currently a ban on slaughterhouses. The importation of horse meat is also banned.

10. Sassafras oil

Sassafras oil was once an ingredient in root beer, but it was banned in 1960 due to concerns that safrole, a main component in the oil, could cause cancer. Safrole is also an ingredient used to make psychedelic drugs. 

11. Mirabelle plums

While some varieties of Mirabelle plums grow in the U.S., the authentic variety grows in France. They’re banned in the U.S. as part of a trade agreement stating that shipping the fruits overseas damages their quality. 

12. Beluga caviar

Beluga caviar is eggs from wild beluga sturgeon. It’s been banned in the U.S. since 2005 because the fish are endangered.  

13. Foie gras

Foie gras is a relatively recent addition to the banned foods list. It was banned in California in 2004 because of how ducks or geese are fattened to obtain it. The ban waffled back and forth before being reinstated in 2019. 

14. Cadbury chocolate

The Cadbury chocolate we know in the U.S. is different than the Cadbury chocolate in Europe. Hersey bought the rights to the chocolate company’s U.S. operations in the 1980s and soon after placed a ban on the importation of any Cadbury chocolate imported from the U.K.


Are there any other foods you’d add to the list?