by Ewa Nowogorski
Not that any American you ask would be interested in it anyways, but there are many foods that are illegal to sell in the US that are perfectly acceptable for sale and consumption in Japan. Horse meat, dolphin meat, whale meat, shark fins, and Japanese puffer fish are all delicacies in Japan, but they are illegal in the US.
Whale meat and horse meat are probably the most controversial items on the list. Whaling used to be a common practice when America was still young, but in recent decades it has become a very hated practice. All species of whale are considered precious and selling whale meat can carry charges of a federal prison sentence of up to a year and a fine of up to $200,000 for the company that sells it. Horses are also considered a loved pet animal, and not one to be cut up and eaten. It’s not illegal in all states, but most states ban its sale. It is considered a taboo to eat it in the US.
Japanese puffer fish is a delicacy to fans of sushi, where it is called “fugu,” but it is largely banned in the U.S. and, where permitted, it can only be served by those with a license. The European Union actually bans it all together. The reason is well known, and often the basis for jokes or tense moments in movies and television shows. While many consider the fish delicious, the puffer fish’s skin and certain organs contain an extremely poisonous toxin called tetrodotoxin. In humans, tetrodotoxin can lead to paralysis or even death by asphyxiation.