There are obviously good reasons for being aware of regulated or prohibited foods when creating your recipes. Sometimes, products are banned for other reasons too. What’s interesting, though, is that not only do these rules and customs change over time, they can change dramatically by country.
While some food products are happily embraced in some places, you might find specific foods banned in other countries because of the ingredients they use. Take a look at these ten, sometimes surprising, foods that are freely on sale in one country but banned elsewhere.
Blueberry Nutrigrain Bars
These treats are illegal in Finland, France and Norway due to the artificial colouring they contain (Blue #1). The dye is considered unhealthy. However, it’s the red and yellows dyes that have been found to be the most problematic, particularly for children, as they’ve been linked to hyperactivity and a lack of concentration.
While the French enjoy horse meat, it’s generally frowned on in the UK (as the 2013 horsemeat scandal revealed). However, it’s actually illegal in California and Illinois. There isn’t a health reason for abstaining from horse meat but horses, like dogs or cats, are often seen as companions or pets rather than food.
The original Mountain Dew was banned around the world due to its brominated vegetable oil (BVO) content. BVO was first patented as a flame retardant, but was used for decades as an emulsifier in American carbonated drinks.
The problem is bromine which is toxic and corrosive in vapour form and research has shown that it builds up in the body over time. It’s banned in the UK and around the world but is still being used in the US. Mountain Dew has since reformulated its product without BVO.
The seemingly harmless poppy seed sprinkle found on bagels wouldn’t be welcome in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan or the UAE. This is largely due to their opiate content, although only one poppy (papaver somniferum) can make this claim. The trace amounts aren’t enough to have any effect but drug screening tests have come back positive for morphine and codeine following the consumption of a seed sprinkled bagel. Singapore’s Central Narcotics Bureau consider them prohibited goods and Saudi Arabia bans them under religious reasons as well.
Another French favourite, foie gras is illegal in India and until recently San Paulo (overturned in 2016). India considers the force-feeding process (to fatten up the liver of geese/ducks) unethical. Although it is sold and eaten in the UK, it’s not produced here as it would be illegal to do so under animal welfare law. This is also the case in other European countries.
The samosa presents a religious conflict in Somalia. The three-pointed triangle is considered representative of the Christian Holy Trinity by Al-Shabaab (Islamist Extremists) so they banned samosas in the areas they control in 2011.
Jelly cups are illegal in the UK and restricted elsewhere. Those that contain konjac gum or konjac glucomannan are banned because their slippery texture could cause choking, particularly those designed to be swallowed in one go.
The Scottish traditional dish has been illegal in the USA since the 1970s because of a longstanding ban on food products containing sheep lung. New rules are set to be finalised in 2017 which may lift the ban and bring in a new revenue stream for Scotland.
Illegal in Australia, Canada, USA and Scotland, raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurised. As such, it may still contain pathogens that are dangerous for human consumption (such as listeria and E.coli). Raw milk is legal in England and Wales.
Kinder Surprise Eggs
While most people are content to remove the plastic item within, this child-favourite product contravenes the US 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in that it contains a ‘non-nutritive object’ and is therefore illegal.