5 Foods that have been banned

Foie gras will be banned in California this year. It’s a ban that has sparked a veritable feeding frenzy, with the price of foie gras doubling as Californians scramble for one last taste of the controversial delicacy. 

However, it’s not the only food to have fallen foul of the law.

Shark fin

Sharks may not be the cutest of creatures but this is one ban that certainly makes sense. Although actual consumption of the fins isn’t illegal, California recently passed a law banning the possession, sale or trade of shark fins and the EU, the U.S, Canada, Brazil and South Africa all have shark finning laws too.

Shark finning is an extremely cruel practice. When caught, their fins are cut off, and they’re thrown back into the sea alive. It’s all the more reprehensible because shark fins don’t have any special properties – they’re just pieces of cartilage.

Tomato ketchup

When HJ Heinz created his first batch of ketchup in 1876 by boiling up tomatoes and adding vinegar and sugar, we’re pretty sure he’d never have imagined that the resulting product would end up being banned in France.

Admittedly, the ban only applies to schools, and children will still be allowed their ketchup fix once a week, but only with French fries. The ban was introduced to help preserve traditional French cuisine.

Japanese puffer fish

The Japanese puffer fish is one of the most famous dishes in Japanese cuisine. Its notoriety comes from the poison tetrodotocin which is found in its liver, ovaries and skin.

Both the sale and consumption of Japanese puffer fish, or Fugu, is banned in the EU, and the catching and selling of puffer fish was banned in Vietnam between 2002 and 2010 after a spate of fatal poisonings.

Elsewhere, only licensed restaurants can serve the dish, and chefs must undertake a two or three year apprenticeship. It’s not an easy skill to master either – the apprenticeships only have a 35 per cent success rate.

Horse meat

The consumption of horse meat was first banned in 732 when a then Europe-wide papal ban was introduced, while Iceland also introduced a separate ban in the year 1000.

In more recent years, the slaughter of horses for meat was banned in the US for five years but Obama lifted this ban in November 2011.

To this day the Italians and French have a particular fondness for horse meat. In order to meet the high demand in Italy, around 20,000 horses are imported from Eastern Europe every year, while France’s love affair with horse meat goes back at least 100 years – records show that in 1911, 62,000 horses were slaughtered for their meat.

Maggot cheese

You might want to skip this next item if you’re eating. Casu Marzu, meaning rotting cheese in Sardinian, is a white runny cheese made by injecting Pecorino Sardo cheese with cheese-eating larvae which then hatch into worms – half-inch-long worms at that.

Tradition dictates that the cheese should be eaten with the worms still inside. However the current EU ban on the cheese was introduced because this particular larvae, Piophila Casei, is resistant to stomach acid and can cause gastric lesions. Nevertheless, cheese aficionados have evaded the ban by registering the cheese as a traditional food, which means it’s exempt from EU rulings.