11 Things Banned in Other Countries, but Legal in the U.S.

filed under: 11, , Lists
Image credit: 
ThinkStock/Erin McCarthy

1. Baby walkers

Babies in Canada have to learn to walk the old-fashioned way. The country banned once-popular baby walkers in 2004, after they were found to endanger babies and delay motor and mental development. Possession or selling of a baby walker can result in fines of up to $100,000 or six months in jail.

2. Ketchup in school cafeterias

A school cafeteria without ketchup? It's un-American! In 2011, France banned the tomato condiment from school cafeterias in order to preserve French cuisine. The one ironic exception: Students can still eat ketchup on French fries.

3. Incandescent light bulbs

Phasing out incandescent light bulbs isn't as easy as flipping a switch. But other countries are ahead of the U.S. on this one. Cuba was the first to the finish line when it brought in CFLs and banned the sale and import of the old-school bulbs in 2005. Argentina followed suit in 2010. Meanwhile, other countries in Europe and Asia steadily move toward replacement.

4. Mullets

In America, it's your right to have whatever terrible hairstyle you want. Not so in the Islamic Republic of Iran. In 2010, the Ministry of Culture banned several "decadent" Western men's hairstyles, including the mullet, spikes, and ponytails. Hairdon'ts are punishable by fine.

5. Plastic bags

Bangladesh started a trend in 2002 when it became the first country to ban plastic bags. Bag bans have caught on all over the world, from France to Tanzania to Mexico City. (Here's a map.) San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags in 2007, and Los Angeles just passed a ban that goes into effect in January. Alright, America—who's next?

6. Spanking

School corporal punishment is still allowed in 19 U.S. states. But in some countries, parents can't even spank their kids. Sweden was the first to ban the belt and paddle in 1979. Now moms and dads in 24 countries rely solely on the time-out.

7. BHA and BHT preservatives

Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) aren't just hard to pronounce. They're carcinogenic ... and found in almost all packaged foods in the U.S. Human consumption of BHA and BHT is banned in more than 160 countries.

8. Chewing gum

Singapore burst gum lovers' bubbles when it outlawed Bazooka Joe and the like in 1992. The ban stuck, but was slightly changed in 2004. Singaporans interested in the oral health benefits of sugar-free gum can now get a prescription.

9. McDonald's

When McDonald's opened in Bolivia in 1988, the locals weren't lovin' it. So they chose not to buy the food, no legislation necessary. In 2002, the fast food giant finally got the message and left the country, making Bolivia the first Latin-American nation without Happy Meals.

10. Weird baby names

What's in a baby name? Legislation in Denmark, New Zealand, Sweden, and many other countries. If Danish parents don't choose one of the 7000 government-approved names for their bundle of joy, they're required to get church approval. New Zealand and Sweden add to their lists of banned baby names each year. The names "V8" and "Superman," respectively, weren't allowed, but "Violence" and "Google" were.

11. Tobacco

A 2006 Business Week survey named Bhutan not only the happiest country in Asia, but also the eighth happiest country in the world. Four years later, the Tobacco Control Act of Bhutan aimed to increase Gross National Happiness by banning the cultivation, harvesting, production, and sale of harmful tobacco products. But here's a happy loophole for smokers: Tobacco consumption is still legal.

More from mental_floss...

July 11, 2013 - 12:11am
submit to reddit