Banned food in the US: a state-by-state guide

banned foods map thrillist

Have you ever gone into your local Whole Foods to look for some UK-made haggis, only to find that there was a sign that read: "UK-made haggis is illegal in the United States and why are you even looking for it and still reading this very long sign?!"? We've all been there, and the pain is very real -- there are shloads of foods that are banned stateside, and each state has its own rules and regulations for which unsavory characters it closes its floodgatesfoodgates to.

Check out our map above (and click here for a zoomed-in version) to see which states have banned the consumption, importation, and/or production of certain foods (we hope you don't have a thing for raw milk), and read our key below to find out WHY??!! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, WHY?!?!?!? To wit:

kinder surprise egg

Kinder Eggs

Banned in: All states (Federal ban)
Our first food ban, which kinda makes the FDA seem like a bunch of Draconian, fun-hating monsters, is on the notorious, forbidden Kinder Egg, or Kinder Surprise. The rest of the world just loooooves these toy-filled chocolate eggs, but the American government has decided that they present a choking hazard. The fine for bringing them into the States is $2,500 per egg -- a small price to pay for getting your hands on a hand-painted, sassy hippo figurine.

mirabelle plums

Mirabelle plums

Banned in: All states (Federal ban)
These plums are a protected-origin fruit hailing from Lorraine, France, and they are rarely seen stateside due to some bizarre import laws (though that hasn't stopped a few renegade seed-smugglers from growing their own). But whatever! We have our own plums, and they’re plumb tasty.



Banned in: All states (Federal ban)
You can make your own haggis in America (and who wouldn’t want to do that?!), but it’s illegal to import the stuff from the UK due to a ban on foods containing sheep lung, which is, like, ALL the good foods. Come on!

unpasteurized milk

Unpasteurized milk

Banned in: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia
The debate over this stuff has its own Wikipedia page, and it has been raging ever since German agricultural chemist Franz von Soxhlet (inventor of the wildly popular “Soxhlet extractor”) first suggested that milk be pasteurized. Some scholars believe raw milk to have intrinsic health benefits, while detractors believe it to be totally gross.

lazy cakes

Lazy Cakes

Banned in: Arkansas
The ban on these melatonin-laced brownies has since been relaxed, but Arkansas officials were certainly up in arms about them when they hit the melatonin-laced baked-good scene in 2011 due to the severe drowsiness they caused. Melatonin then came under fire as a food additive by Dick Durbin (D-IL), considered by many to be the Senate’s drowsiness hawk.

foie gras

Foie gras

Banned in: California (and Chicago until 2008)
The process used by some to produce and harvest foie gras, which is super-fatty goose liver, really is kinda disturbing, leading to the banning of its sale in California, a famously pro-goose rights state.

shark fins

Shark fins

Banned in: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Washington
This is another one of those disturbing-process bans, as the sharks in question are stripped of their dorsal fins and discarded into the ocean, which effectively kills them, as they are no longer able to swim. Their fins are then pared down, bleached, and made into a soup. So yeah, it's all pretty damn disturbing.

junk food

Junk food (in schools)

Banned in: California, Massachusetts, New York... and now everywhere else, thanks to the USDA
OK, so maybe junk food is addictive. But the kids in California, Massachusetts, and New York are just gonna get their hands on it elsewhere, like some junk food black market! With junk food kingpins! Or maybe just from their parents, at home. We kinda like the idea of a junk food black market though.

fried chicken fingers

Eating fried chicken with anything but your fingers

Banned in: Georgia (Gainesville)
Perhaps because fried chicken is something that’s taken very, very seriously in the South, the city of Gainesville actually banned its consumption using any other method than your fingers in a slightly joke-y city ordinance. No forks, no knives, no fancy-ass sporks -- those are the Devil’s instruments! No word yet on whether other simple tools are legal there. Please, someone visit and let us know.


Watermelons (in parks)

Banned in: Indiana (Beech Grove)
Owing to the supposed sharpness of their rinds and their tendency to puncture garbage bags, eating watermelon is forbidden in Beech Grove, Indiana’s public parks. Someone call up Ron Swanson -- this just might be in his jurisdiction.



Banned in: Louisiana
The ritualistic consumption of blood -- be it animal or human -- is illegal in Louisiana, leading many to wonder how common it was to drink blood before the ban.

flamin' hot cheetos

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (in some schools)

Banned in: Massachusetts, New York, California, New Mexico
Sweet mother of mercy, why?! As if the ban on junk food in schools wasn’t enough, some evil dictators in Massachusetts, New York, New Mexico, and California have slapped manna-from-heaven Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in particular with a blanket “verboten”. Maybe because of their unholy red residue? But that would only make it easier to identify their fingerprints at a crime scene! We just don’t know about this one.

peanut butter

Peanut butter (in one school district)

Banned in: Tennessee
The fact is, some people are allergic to peanuts and peanut products. But to inflict upon the many the dismay of the few? That’s what’s happening in one Tennessee school district after a number of peanut-related incidents. How can choosy moms choose Jif now?!


Margarine (in public institutions)

Banned in: Wisconsin
In what may be the most Wisconsin thing to ever have happened, the state banned the serving of margarine in public institutions such as schools, prisons, etc. in favor of pure, unadulterated butter. Also, if you want to buy margarine in a grocery store there, it has to be hyper-regulated in terms of color and label size, and must be made using domestic vegetable oil. As if there was ever any doubt that Wisconsinites are a proud, dairy-loving people.

food bans

Food bans

Banned in: Mississippi
And, in what may be the most Mississippi thing to ever have happened, food bans on portion size have been (in a super-meta move) banned. It’s a move considered a pooh-pooh of Bloomberg-esque food size restrictions, and an indication that, whatever direction Mississippi is rolling in, it’s gained too much momentum to stop now.