Adventurous diners will have to travel outside the U.S. to try any of these banned foods. If you do happen to find one on a restaurant menu stateside, it’s probably not the real deal. But if it really is authentic, you may still want to pass — there are no safety inspections or food handling standards for banned items.
* Epoisse de Bourgogne cheese: This earthy and pungent cheese, made from unpasteurized milk, pairs well with Belgian white ale, and is notorious for listeria contamination. Epoisse can be imported — but only if it’s less than 60 days old.
* Horse meat: Slightly sweet and similar to beef, goes well with garlic butter, and potentially full of medications that are toxic to humans. The federal government prohibits the commercial slaughter of horses for human consumption, though private slaughter is permitted in many states. But you still might want to skip it — horses raised in the U.S. are broadly considered unsafe for human consumption because of the medications they routinely receive.
* Fresh ackee: This pear-shaped pinkish-red fruit boasts a delicate and lightly sweet flavor, tastes lovely in savory preparations, and is highly toxic until it’s ripe. Unripe ackee contains the toxin hypoglycin, which causes dangerous drops in blood sugar, vomiting, and sometimes death. The U.S. only permits the import and sale of canned or frozen varieties.
* Casu martzu: This traditional Sardinian sheep’s milk cheese boasts a strong flavor and spicy aftertaste, marries perfectly with a bold red wine, and contains thousands of live maggots. Casu martzu sales are illegal in all of Italy, the whole European Union, and the U.S., but some scientists (and many Sardinian locals) argue that the cheese is safe when eaten correctly. Even if it doesn’t tempt you, casu martzu represents a fascinating look into how the common people of the Roman Empire lived and used unexpected ingredients to create extraordinary thing.
* Puffer fish: With mild-tasting white flesh that can be eaten raw or cooked, puffer fish (also called fugu) pairs well with a variety of accompaniments and contains a poison 1200 times more powerful than cyanide, has no antidote, and kills around 100 unlucky diners each year. The U.S. doesn’t ban all fugu outright, but any legal meat must be processed by licensed chefs in Japan before importation, inspected and approved upon arrival in the U.S., and prepared again by one of only about a dozen specially certified U.S. chefs before diners can dig in. Is fugu worth the risk and the hassle? Maybe, maybe not — one diner described it as “bland” to the New York Times.