You Can’t Eat This (Or That, Either)

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

I’m often asked about the prevalence of food bans in this country and elsewhere. Coming on the heels of things like California’s foie gras ban (and the resultant challenge to the law) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to ban sodas of a certain size, people wonder if such bans are really all that widespread. Unfortunately, they are.

While any list of such bans would be sorely incomplete, here’s a very quick run through some bans recently enacted or under consideration across the globe.

Any others you’d like to add to the list?

Baylen Linnekin

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28 Responses to “You Can’t Eat This (Or That, Either)”

  1. #1 |  SJE | 

    Nonpasteurized cheese USA
    Certain artificial sweeteners USA

    You could also add the Japanese and European agricultural protections which are rationalized in part on the health of the “culture.”

  2. #2 |  awp | 

    The New Braunfels (where river tubing is a major tourist attraction) ban is not really about drinking or eating. It is more of a preemptive ban on littering by those very same drunk tourists.

  3. #3 |  Jeff | 

    Not a food ban, per se, but Durham, NC is trying to choke out its thriving food truck scene by implementing crippling restrictions on them (similar to what my hometown of Raleigh did a little while ago).

  4. #4 |  tariqata | 

    Speaking as an interested Ontarian, do you have a link that indicates that kibbeh and steak tartare are being banned, or that a ban is being considered, across the province? (If so, there’s a local restaurant that I’d better get myself to, stat.)

    We have no shortage of food regulations in this province that I think are silly – Toronto’s ridiculous and seemingly endless debate over whether street vendors should be permitted to sell foods other than pre-cooked wieners to be served in a bun, for example – but the linked article is about the action of a local health department (Windsor-Essex) and under the current provincial regulations, the final word on food preparation standards belongs to the local medical officer of health. (See section 33(13)).

  5. #5 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    The Olympic thing is very common in hosting countries, and is typically widely mocked (as it has been here).

    The problem with zoning ordinance in America is they ARE a weed, different all over the place. Setting the definitions centrally to avoid this sort of abuse… (the local council decides what areas are zoned as, but doesn’t write the definitions…)

  6. #6 |  len (not the one you hate) | 

    Off the top of my head, foie gras in California, horse and raw milk anywhere in America. Those aren’t truly bans on eating (I think), but are bans on commerce.

  7. #7 |  Dan Hill | 

    The term kibbeh used by itself typically refers to the cooked version (either baked or deep fried) of the dish which is presumably not being banned (sloppy reporting By the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, but hey it’s not like there are any Lebanese people in Toronto they could have checked this with) The raw version is correctly referred to as kibbeh nayeh. Quite tasty but not worth the risk.

  8. #8 |  En Passant | 

    Baylen Linnekin wrote:

    Any others you’d like to add to the list?

    Two egregious federal food bans from the 1970s are my pet peeve.

    First, the FDA banned sassafras roots from commercial sale in the 1970s.

    The reason was a sort of micro-moral panic by the FDA. Safrole, the most important active ingredient created by sassafras roots, was fed concentrated by the carload to mice specially bred to develop cancer if you looked at them cross-eyed. Some mice developed cancer. So the FDA declared safrole a carcinogen. In fact, in all of human history there has never been a documented case of cancer in a human being caused by safrole from ingesting sassafras roots or leaves.

    These days, what you get for flavoring in root beer is not sassafras, but extracts from wintergreen and black birch. For more overview, see

    I grew up on sassafras tea, as did many generations before me. I’m still here nearly 70 years after consuming copious quantities of sassafras tea in childhood. Aside from delicious drinks, sassafras has actual mild medicinal qualities. It induces sweating, which is useful in dealing with mild fevers, or even hot dry days.

    It still isn’t quite a crime to grow your own sassafras, just to sell it. But they’re working on that too. The DEA has recently declared safrole a methamphetamine manufacturing precursor. So, likely soon, growing a sassafras tree will be probable cause for paramilitary thugs to bash in your doors, kill your dog, you or your children, or all three, just for giggles.

    Second, the FDA has persistently and categorically refused to approve miraculin, an extract of the berries of Synsepalum dulcificum, known as “miracle fruit”.

    There are no, zero, zip, zilch nada actual issues of any danger from the miracle fruit or its extract. People have eaten the berries since time immemorial without harm. But because miraculin can be used as an entirely natural non-caloric sweetener, various chemical manufacturers are threatened by the possibility of its widespread (and very inexpensive) use. Apparently chemical and pharma companies actually run the FDA, and will make sure the approval will never happen.

    For more information, see

  9. #9 |  Mairead | 

    The “ban” on tomatoes in Egypt isn’t a ban, except for those who want to obey that particular group of pseudo-Muslim hysterics.

  10. #10 |  Xenocles | 

    @1 You can buy raw milk cheese in the US. Organic Valley makes a decent cheddar at least. The FDA specifically recognizes aged hard raw milk cheese as safe, due mostly to the acidity.

  11. #11 |  Andrew_M_Garland | 

    Goodbye to Locally Processed Meats

    05/27/10 – Cato@Liberty by Walter Olson

    Joe Cloud is a small meat processor in Virginia [edited]:
    Changes in national food regulation make it difficult for small plants to stay in business. In 2000, small USDA-inspected slaughter and processing plants were required to adopt the costly Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) food safety plan. There are estimates that more than 20% of those plants went out of business.
    Now, proposed changes to HACCP threaten to take down many of the ones that remain, making healthy, local meats a rare commodity.

    Stop the Death from Quilts and Food

  12. #12 |  Druggist | 

    Yeah you should correct the bit about Egypt in the post. That’s akin to saying that the USA bans zucchini bread because the Westboro Baptist Church declared it the most gay of all baked goods.

  13. #13 |  Ornithorhynchus | 

    I’ve read that some European countries ban Kosher and Halal slaughter. I think that most of them allow the importation of Kosher or Halal meat from other countries, but I seem to remember reading that Switzerland bans that as well.
    I’m not certain, so you might want to look these up yourself.

  14. #14 |  KP | 

    I believe Foie Gras was banned 5 or so years ago in PDX…

    As for New Braunfels, I appreciate the banning of beverages in cans. OR, rather than banning the cans, I’d like to see a city or state or county demand that beverages be available in both cans and GLASS (not plastics).

    IMHO, drinks taste better in glass. As the insides of glass bottles are not treated as are most (all?) AL cans beverages in glass should be better for you, too.

  15. #15 |  Mario | 

    It’s ironic that tomatoes are considered too “Christian,” since Christendom had no tomatoes until after Columbus came back from the New World.

  16. #16 |  Jason! | 

    The foie gras ban doesn’t really belong, as it’s (ostensibly) for the benefit of the geese’s health as opposed to the benefit of the consumer’s health.

  17. #17 |  JMC | 

    Although not a “ban”, per se, we’ve all seen idiotic local govt nannies closing kid’s lemonade stands.

  18. #18 |  Jonnelle | 

    In Tennessee, it is next to impossible to find raw milk. I buy it from the Amish at the Farmers’ Market. They label it as “pet food” to get around state law.

    And it is delicious.

  19. #19 |  Juice | 

    I’m surprised that people who want to ban foie gras don’t also want to ban veal. Or most pork, or most eggs, or most chicken.

  20. #20 |  Furpo | 

    Canned beverages, Texas:

    Yall should have voted for the bottle deposit law last year.
    Up here in Michigan it was passed in late 70`s , early 80`s, seemed like a pain the butt at the time, but it sure cleaned up the roadsides. You no longer see beer cans tossed on the sides of roads, or rivers.

    Even if your a litterbug and toss em, someone will stop and pick them up.
    Thanks to this law we have had clean roadsides and rivers for over three decades now.

  21. #21 |  Swampy | 

    KP said “As for New Braunfels, I appreciate the banning of beverages in cans. OR, rather than banning the cans, I’d like to see a city or state or county demand that beverages be available in both cans and GLASS (not plastics).”

    That’s a good idea, but the NB ban is focused at the river tubbing, which is huge tourist attraction. You do not want glass bottles littering the bottom of a shallow river which thousands of people visit almost year round. Could you image the EMS bill?

  22. #22 |  Lefty | 

    Bans on Foie Gras here and similar bans on Kosher and Halal slaughter are coming from an animal treatment perspective. Bloomberg is just a nut. Different things altogether.

  23. #23 |  Dwight Brown | 

    “…but the NB ban is focused at the river tubbing, which is huge tourist attraction”.

    This. It does not ban the sales of beverages in cans or bottles; it bans the use of disposable containers on the Comal and Guadalupe rivers inside New Braunfels city limits. You can still buy beer in cans or bottles; you just have to pour it into a “non-disposable” container before going on the river.

    The wisdom and economic impact of the law can be debated, but if we’re going to talk about it, let’s talk about it correctly.

  24. #24 |  Bill Poser | 

    What is strange about the ban on kibbeh nayeh and steak tartare is that they only pose a health risk if the ground meat is obtained from a mass supplier. There is very little risk if the restaurant buys the meat whole, washes it off carefully, grinds it itself and serves it within a reasonable time after grinding – bacteria such as E coli result from surface contamination.

  25. #25 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @22 – “Animal Welfare”? Yea, ban standard slaughter first then get back to me on those.

  26. #26 |  Anodyne | 

    The raw liver ban in Japan is, if I remember correctly, specifically aimed at raw fugu liver – which is so incredibly toxic, most chefs won’t even try to prepare it. (You’d have a hard time finding someone willing to prepare fugu, too – it’s notoriously tricky to do right and getting it wrong can lead to death.)

  27. #27 |  Heaton | 

    What if instead of banning foods which are bad for you, or trying to mitigate the affects of harmful fool (like Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign in NYC with soft drinks) we just kicked the legs out from farm subsidies to sugar and corn? If you stopped corn subsidies alone, the price of high fructose corn syrup would rise sharply, it would become less ubiquitous, and public health would improve on its own– through the free market.

  28. #28 |  Tatiana Covington | 

    How about requiring the state to eat shit?