15 Foods That Are Banned Across the World

By Dhruvalakshmi Paithankar on Sep 05, 2018
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There are food items that are part of our regular diet and we never think twice before devouring them. But, this does not mean that these products are safe and healthy. From ketchup in France to sea bass in Great Britain, there are places that prohibit some products. Here is a reminder for the foodie in you that you may be eager to satiate your hunger with different cuisines around the world, but, there are some banned food products to stop you from ‘trying it all’. Read on to know what the illegal foods around the world are and why no one eats them.

1. Samosas


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I cannot imagine the world without samosas, but people of Somalia have to as samosa is too offensive and western. Wait, what? Did it happen when I was busy eating those mouth-watering snacks? Apparently, the militant Islamic group of Al-Shabaab decided that the shape of samosas resembles Christian Holy Trinity and is upsetting. Known as sambusas by locals, this banned food was quite popular in Somalia before 2005. But, as Al-Shabaab is not in ‘love with the shape of it’, no one can eat it now. Though they have made it perfectly clear, I am still confused. Is it okay if I change the shape of samosa and then eat it?

2. Chewing Gum


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One thing I never expected was a ban on chewing gum. But, it is a real scenario in Singapore as it faced the problem of gum littering on a huge scale. Along with spitting and littering on the streets, chewing gum ban in Singapore is actually an inspiring move. It has helped the country to maintain clean roads and public transport. Though chewing gum for dental health is allowed since 2004, you still need a doctor’s prescription for buying it. I am definitely keeping my beloved gum stick at home while going to Singapore now.

3. Olestra/Olean


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Olestra, which is also known as Olean, is a fat-substitute mainly used in potato chips. Though it became very popular after it was first introduced, it came into light that consumption of Olestra has many side-effects. It may affect a body’s ability to absorb vitamins. When Canada and different European countries stopped the usage of Olean, it became one of the top banned food products in the world. It was also declared as one of the worst inventions by Time magazine. I should have listened to my mother long ago and steer clear of those tempting chips! 

4. Marshmallow containing cereal


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Who wouldn’t want to start their morning with a bowl of cereal topped with marshmallows, right? Apparently, Saudi Arabians prefer not to eat marshmallows at all. Some believe that it may contain ingredients that are not good for kids and some think that the consistency of marshmallows is pork-like. The use of gelatine also contributes to prohibition. Whatever the actual reason may be, be prepared to part with that sugary delight when you are in Saudi Arabia as even tourists are supposed to be not eating marshmallows when they are visiting.

5. Arsenic fed chicken


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What is it with eating birds that are fattened abnormally? We all know arsenic is a poison (thanks to all the suspense-thriller stories!) and still, it was introduced in chicken feed. Why you may wonder. It helps chicken improve its muscle growth while making the meat pinker and keeping it fresh longer. Though people claim that this arsenic has always been extracted, it still has found its way into the meat that we all so happily eat. This is one of the illegal foods in the world as devouring arsenic fed chicken may lead to cancer.

6. Kinder Surprise Eggs


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As a kid, I always loved how Kinder Eggs surprised me with tiny toys inside. But, for more than 50 years, kids in the USA were deprived of this joy. Because according to the Federal Food Act, any food item that has a non-nutritive object inside, is unsafe for consumption. That certainly made it one of the controversial foods in the world. It never actually stopped anyone from smuggling these sweet surprises in from Canada and Europe. But now, a similar version of Kinder Surprise Eggs which is safe for kids has been introduced to the US market.

7. Mountain Dew


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There are countries where you can certainly not ‘do the dew’ as the popular soft drink Mountain Dew is banned. It has an ingredient called Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) that is actually a flame retardant chemical. This is prohibited for food usage in more than 100 countries today making it one of the banned products in the world. Though used in a small quantity in Mountain Dew, the excess of BVO is linked to behavioural and reproduction problems. You can easily get this soft drink in US but not in Europe and Japan.

8. Horse meat 


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You will be surprised to learn that horse meat, which is a delicacy in some parts of the world, is banned in the USA, UK, Australia, Ireland, and Brazil. Many people from Spain and New Zealand voluntarily avoid eating this meat. But, there is no actual reason for banning it from the menu as it is tender, slightly sweeter and cheaper than beef. Foodies around the world love pampering their taste buds with dishes made of horse meat. Japanese dishes like Basashi and Italian dishes like Straéca contain horse meat and have never faced any criticism. Now at least you know where to go to eat horse meat!

9. Durian


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Durian is a fruit that is notoriously famous for its disgusting, overpowering smell. It is funny how this fruit is also known for its heavenly sweet taste. But, that did not stop it from getting on the list of banned foods across the world. You cannot eat a freshly cut durian at the public places in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries. Enter Singapore’s metro with a durian in a hand and you are likely to charges with a fine. But, you can buy this forbidden fruit when packed in an airtight container or frozen.

10. Foie Gras


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Foie Gras, an expensive, luxury food product, is made from the liver of duck or goose. It sounds regular until you learn that these birds are force-fed with a large amount of food to fatten their liver up to 10 times its natural size. This scrumptious part of French cuisine has always been a much-debated topic and is among the banned products around the world. Many animal rights and welfare groups are fighting for a blanket ban on this unnatural feeding. Currently, only countries like Australia, Argentina, Brazil, India, Israel, and some European Nations do not allow consumption of Foie Gras.

11. Shark fins 


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Sharks, one of the alpha predators in the ocean, are turned into a prey in the last few decades. Due to the infamous practice of shark finning, the number of these marine animals has dropped significantly low. There are times when fins are cut off from the sharks when they are alive and then sharks are left in the ocean to die a slow, painful death. Then these fins are used for preparing shark fin soup that can easily cost $100 per bowl. This cruel practice has been banned in US, Canada, Australia, and Taiwan, but is regular in many parts of the world. Time to make it one of the forbidden foods around the globe, don’t you think?

12. Dog and cat meat


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The practice of eating dog and cat meat came under scrutiny recently after the uproar over Yulin Dog Meat Festival left many shaken. In China alone, millions of these pets are slaughtered every year. Though there is no scientific evidence, cat meat is said to have aphrodisiac properties. This belief has contributed to increasing cat meat consumption. But, today Indonesia and Taiwan have banned eating it whereas many states in US prohibit the sell of dog and cat meat. The animal-lover in me is desperately waiting for the day when these animals can roam the streets freely without being slaughtered.


13. Beluga caviar


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Beluga caviar is considered to be one of the most expensive food items in the world. As hard-to-resist as it may sound, there is a reason why US banned imports of these in 2005. Caviar is basically the eggs of critically endangered Beluga fish. The widespread consumption of this black gold despite being high-priced added to the decline of Beluga fish. I know, some of you may love this scrumptious delicacy, but, you may soon have to part with it. Different countries are considering to follow US’s footsteps in order to conserve this fish.

14. Live Monkey Brains


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There are some eastern countries that eat the raw or cooked brain of a monkey whereas evidence suggests that some restaurants in China and Malaysia used to serve a monkey brain removed directly out of the skull when the animal was still alive. But, China banned this practice and any person serving the dish will be sentenced to up to 10 years today. Even Hong Kong has banned eating a live monkey brain. I am so glad that this bizarre and inhumane food is not allowed for consumption anymore. I can now visit China without fearing that I will find a live monkey on a restaurant table, yay!

15. Ackee Fruit


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There are fruits that keep you energized and then, there are fruits that can kill you. You may know it already if you have heard about the national fruit of Jamaica -Ackee fruit. Though this bright red fruit tastes yummy, it should not be eaten before it’s perfectly ripe. That is the reason behind US banning import of raw ackee. You can still buy these when they are frozen or canned, but not in any other form.

Now you know what to eat, what not to eat, where to eat, and how to eat!

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