Cheesey Americans – Illegal food

cheese platter

Last week, the United States put a blockade on mimolette, the brightly colored orange cheese that traditionally hails from Lille. To refine the flavour of the cheese, mites are deliberately introduced, a practice that up until now has not caused a problem. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed, however, that the tiny organisms could cause allergic reactions and halted the sale of Mimolette , outraging French producers and importers of the cheese in the US.

In fact, in the US the FDA has a strict ban on the import of unpasteurised, raw-milk cheese, less than 60 days old. Australia and New Zealand have similar restrictions, and in Scotland, raw milk itself is banned outright, offending cheese lovers and producers alike. Traditional foods and delicacies aren’t just part of local food cultures, often – and especially in the modern era when words such as “artisan” carry a lot of culinary weight – they are a way into the global market for small-scale producers.


Banned in Australia and New Zealand until 2005, the blue cheese from the south of France hasn’t always had an easy time outside of its home country. In its final days, the Bush Administration placed a 300% duty on the cheese, essentially keeping it out of the American market.

Foie gras

Banned in California since 2012, partly due to campaigns from activists and lobbyists, chefs and producers alike have protested against the state’s move to keep the goose liver delicacy from being served, but to no avail. While the import and sale of foie gras is legal in Europe, force-feeding animals for non-medical purposes is banned in a handful of European countries, including the United Kingdom and Norway, limiting production to Belgium, Bulgaria, Hungary, Spain and France.

Casu marzu

Because of food and hygiene regulations, this traditional Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese containing live insect larvae was banned until recently by the European Union. But here’s where food culture reigns: the ban was lifted on the grounds that Casu marzu is a traditional food made using traditional methods.


The traditional Scottish staple makes its way to plenty of plates in the UK, but in America it has been banned since 1971 because of the use of sheep’s lung. Since the US has firm Scottish roots, there is, however, a small market for American businesses making lung-free haggis for the domestic market.

Read the complete Guardian article on illegal food here.


By Ted

I'm a former member of the Radio Television News Directors Association and during the last 30 years I've written news stories, sports stories, stories for children, puzzles, and plays for puppets.

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