Even if you have all the money in the world, there are some things you just can’t buy in the US.
Here are 10 products that are banned because of safety concerns, environmental issues or political troubles.
You might have heard of absinthe being referred to as “the ultimate psychoactive and hallucinogenic drink.” That’s partly because this anise-flavored spirit has a 45–74% alcohol content, an astonishingly high number when you keep in mind that vodka, rum and whiskey have a maximum alcohol content of 40%.
Much of absinthe’s bad rap, however, comes from one of its ingredients: Artemisia absinthium or “grand wormwood,” which has been blamed for everything from hallucinations to muscle spasms to seizures.
The thing is, you won’t get to try real absinthe in the US. That’s because the versions produced and sold here cannot contain the chemical compound thujone, which is the one that causes the feeling of ‘lucid drunkenness’ Absinthe is so famous for. Without thujone, you’re basically just drinking green alcohol — sort of cool, but also pointless.
That’s right, if you want to drink milk straight from a cow, you’d better get your own cow.
About half of the 51 states completely ban the sale of raw (unpasteurized) milk for human consumption. The rest of the states have a mix of weird laws that only allow raw milk to be sold as pet food, only through special retail stores or directly from pre-authorized farms.
What about outside the US? The rest of the world is free to drink as much straight-from-the-cow milk as they wish.
Sassafras oil is still used in many countries in the making of everything from root beer to soaps and cleaning products. Not in the US, where it has been banned since 1960 because of its potential to cause cancer, induce vomiting, damage the liver and much more.
Until 1994, sassafras tea was also banned, but the ban has since been lifted.
Antiques From Certain Time Periods or Countries
Before you buy that pre-Columbian icon for your home office, you should know that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection frowns on the importation of a number of things considered “cultural property.” And by frown, they mean “it’s not coming in.” Not unless you have a special export permit issued by the country of origin — which is more or less impossible to get for a private person.
So what kind of things are banned? Pretty much anything that could be considered both old and culturally significant. That means Mayan pre-Columbian archaeological objects, Colonial period objects from certain South American countries, Byzantine ritual objects, and Khmer sculptures from Cambodia.
Also, pretty much anything considered Iraqi cultural property, but you’re probably not taking a holiday trip to Irak anytime soon.
Here’s a ban you might actually not object to. Haggis is a traditional Scottish pudding made with sheep’s livers, hearts and lungs (and a lot of other equally unsavory ingredients).
While it might seem the government is protecting your palate by banning haggis, the truth is that the cause of the ban is different: eating lungs is forbidden in the US because they increase the risk of disease transmission between species. Apparently sheep’s hearts and livers are fair game, though.
That’s right, there’s actually a type of cheese you won’t be able to get in the good-old USA. Then again, casu marzu — which hails from Sardinia (that’s Italy, in case you were wondering) — might not be something you want to eat anyway.
Why not? Well, for starters, it sounds like something you might be forced to eat if you were a character in a horror movie. That’s because casu marzu comes into existance when cheese fly larvae hatch into the cheese. So not only is this made with unpasteurized milk — which is a big no-no in the US — but the live maggots are still in the cheese when you sit down to eat it.
Buckyballs magnet became an instant sensation when they came out in 2009. After all, who doesn’t like the idea of tiny magnetic balls you can reshape into… well, you know, different shapes.
While fun, Buckyballs turned out to be quite dangerous for kids, who ended up swallowing them. This can lead to perforations of the intestine wall and stomach and in a few cases required surgery.
In 2012, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a ban on selling Buckyballs magnets as children’s toys. That means companies are free to still sell these under other names, which makes this a ban that’s easily avoided.
Fresh Ackee Fruit
Ackee and saltfish is one of Jamaica’s traditional dishes — and one you might have some difficulty trying in the US. That’s because the fresh Ackee fruit (obviously needed to make said dish) is banned in the US.
Banning a fruit might seem a little extreme, but ackee seems to deserve it. Turns out the seeds of ackee contain a substance that causes something known as Jamaican Vomiting Sickness. If that’s not enough to scare you off, you should know that the consumption of ackee can also lead to seizures, coma and even death.
So how come Jamaicans can eat it safely? Well, it seems that the danger is only present when eating unripe ackee. Obviously the US government doesn’t trust you when it comes to picking ripe fruit, so it just banned the fruit completely. The exception: canned ackee, which you can find in some specialty stores.
Weight Loss Products Containing Ephedra
Ephedra was the darling of the weight loss world until 2004, when the FDA said “no more.” After countless complaints of everything from strokes to heart attacks to liver failure, ephedra (which was actually quite effective as a fat burner) was banned as an ingredient in weight loss products.
Since then, many of the products that contained ephedra have been “redesigned” and now contain different — and hopefully safer — ingredients.
Kinder Surprise Eggs
The United States has had a ban on candies with embedded toys since 1938 and it seems that not even chocolate is safe from banning in America.
Kinder Surprise are hollow chocolate eggs that contain a tiny toy. Considered a chocking hazard by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), these chocolate eggs (which are the size of a real chicken egg) are big sellers in Europe, Canada and South America, especially during the Easter season.
Here, you’ll have to do with painted eggs.