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6 Foods That Are Illegal in the United States

puffer fish
Aries Sutanto/Shutterstock

America is known for its sprawling supermarkets and abundance of food options, but it turns out—not everything is permitted in the land of the free. In fact, the United States has actually banned a variety of foods and drinks from our grocery store shelves, albeit mainly for health and safety reasons. Take a look at the list below. Would you try any of these foods or drinks?

Kinder Surprise Eggs

These European chocolates are popular across the pond because of the small plastic toys hidden inside the edible egg-shaped treats. However, the FDA banned food products containing inedible objects a long time ago due to choking hazards. Thus, when Kinder Eggs hit the market, they immediately fell under this violation. In 2018, Kinder released the Kinder Joy, a similar product that is legal in America since the small plastic toy is packaged separately from the chocolate egg.

Not everyone is fully appeased, though—the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has confiscated over 160,000 Kinder Surprise Eggs from travelers attempting to smuggle them into the country in the last ten years alone. Maybe these new eggs will one day meet everyone’s approval.


This Japanese pufferfish looks cute and, well, puffy, but it actually contains a toxin that can cause paralysis and even death. It is considered a delicacy in Japan. Chefs spend years training for the exclusive right to prepare it. Restaurant guests have to sign special waivers before taking a single bite of this fish. A few chefs who have special licenses are allowed to prepare it in the United States, but there are major repercussions for anyone who isn’t specially qualified.


Haggis is a savory Scottish pudding (of sorts) that consists of a sheep’s heart, lungs, and liver, with add-ins such as oatmeal, stock, and suet (for texture). Believe it or not, it actually tastes better than it sounds. However, besides a potentially gag-inducing reaction, why is it banned in the United States? Back in 1971, the U.S. put a ban on the sale of sheep’s lung due to a fear of diseases that were linked to that body part. If you really want to try haggis, head on over to Scotland—it will taste better there anyway.

Casu Marzu

Americans love their cheese, but Casu Marzu is… an exception, shall we say. Simply put, Casu Marzu is Pecorino cheese that has been infested with maggots to make it soft and add a rich flavor. Originating in Sardinia, Italy, this cheese takes several months to make and has actually been banned in its home country (and the entire EU) for health reasons.

Unpasteurized Milk

A heated debate is currently raging in the United States over raw milk, which is currently banned in 18 states due to health concerns. Advocates of unpasteurized milk claim it has many nutritional benefits, but the CDC’s official statement is that raw milk can carry many dangerous diseases, including E. coli and salmonella, and should thus be avoided.

Shark Fins

Like raw milk, shark fins aren’t outright banned in the United States. Currently, only 12 states do not allow the sale of shark fins. The act of shark-finning itself, which involves slicing the fins off live sharks and tossing them back into the ocean to die, has been illegal in the U.S. since 2000. However, many American restaurants are still allowed to serve shark fins as long as the sharks were slaughtered elsewhere. Apparently, that’s how demand works.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Listverse and Introvert, Dear, and she is currently working on her first novel. When she's not breaking down complex topics into readable material, she loves to stay on the lighter side and blog about Disney and Universal parks on . Read Full Bio »