The Food and Drug Administration are continuously monitoring foods that are consumed in the US, to make sure it’s safe enough to eat. Sometimes, the decisions make sense (no one wants to get food poisoning, right?), while other times, it’s all due to a technicality.
1. Raw milk
Although raw milk has been consumed for thousands of years (and still in some countries), it has been banned in the US since 1984. Today, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics, as well as the American Medical Association discourage all consumption of raw milk and raw milk products.
This is because raw, unpasteurized milk carry the risk of containing bacteria such as Campylobacter, Escherichia coli, Listeria, or Salmonella, all which can cause serious illnesses. Pasteurization (a process invented by Louis Pasteur) kills off these bacteria, making milk safe to drink.
2. Ackee fruits
Ackee (Blighia sapida) is a bright-red fruit originating from Jamaica. There, they sauté it with salted cod, peppers, onions, and spices. Delicious as it might be, it also hides a dangerous secret. The unripened fruits contain dangerously high levels of hypoglycin A and B, compounds which get their name from the ability to induce hypoglycemia.
Within 48 hours after ingestion, people can experience “Jamaican vomiting sickness”, then a docile phase, followed by a final period of vomiting, seizures, and coma. In the US, it was banned completely until 2000, after which manufacturers were allowed to sell only frozen and canned ackee, with strict monitoring from the FDA.
Haggis is a delicacy from Scotland, consisting of sheep’s heart, lung, and liver, together with oatmeal, onions, and beef fat. It might sound gross to you, but for those of Scottish heritage it’s a delicious food. Almost 50 years ago, the USDA banned the sale of all foods containing sheep’s lung, which in effect, also banned the sale of haggis. The banned was put in place in fear of a degenerative disease affecting sheep, called scrapie. The Department of Agriculture also believed that importing animal lungs would increase the likelihood of foodborne-illnesses.
4. Kinder Joy
When it comes to the risk of foodborne-illnesses, we can understand why certain foods are banned – but Kinder Joy? This candy, made by the same Italian confectionary company that makes Ferrero Rocher, comes in a plastic egg shape that splits in two. One part contains a delicious mix of milk-cream and cocoa, while the other half contains a toy for kids to play with. Sounds harmless, right?
Unfortunately, up until 2017, this treat was banned in the US. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act stated that no food item can be sold if it contains a “non-nutritive” object, which means that due to a technicality, Kinder Joy could not be sold. Additionally, the Consumer Product Safety Commission also felt the toys inside the Kinder Joy eggs were a potential choking hazard for small children.
In 2017, the eggs were altered in such a way that it was legal to be sold in the US. The part that is edible, and the other containing the toy, were separated with packaging. Although it’s not completely the same as the ones sold in Europe, we’re happy that it’s back on the market!