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I am having difficulty determining whether Casu Marzu is illegal in the United States. There are reports of it being available, albeit briefly, in New York last year. Also, I have heard that it is illegal because it is unpasteurized.

Wikipedia's description:

Casu a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese, notable for containing live insect larvae (maggots). Although found mostly in the island of Sardinia, the cheese is also found in the nearby Corsica, where it goes by the name of casgiu merzu.

Are all unpasteurized cheeses & dairy products illegal in the United States? Is Casu Marzu illegal because it is unpasteurized? Or might it have something to do with those maggots...

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You just posted this question to gross us out, didn't you? Mission accomlished, then ... – FuzzyChef Aug 2 '12 at 4:12
Something tells me that cutting into a cheese and having maggots leap out in a 6-inch radius around the cheese would make for a pretty good scene in a horror movie. (If you can call a scene in a horror movie "good") – Theodore Murdock Aug 3 '12 at 17:02
WooHoo! Klingon food! – Jolenealaska Feb 7 '14 at 20:18

4 Answers 4

up vote 5 down vote accepted

You ain't going to get anything like that into the states legally - not with the chance of livestock still being viable in there. It doesn't need pasteurising,it needs paralyzing before it will get past US customs.

You might get some included as a component of a cooked product, if the paperwork assures customs it doesn't actually cause death.

If you want a strong tasting cheese, try looking for Vieux Lille.

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Not THE answer, but: A state-by-state map of raw milk laws in the United States

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Nice to know you can still buy raw milk somewhere - you can't buy it retail in UK. I was brought up on the stuff, and my opinion is that pasteurising everything is an excuse for sloppy hygiene and extending shelf life at the expense of taste. – klypos Aug 3 '12 at 23:33

I think there is export laws over the European Union. For a while you could get mimolette and make it but then it was banned. Anything that has mites gets banned by the FDA.

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I haven't heard of export laws, but in 2013 the FDA had banned Mimolette for a while based on the mites (after admitting it for 25 years, go figure). But the legal status of Casu Marzu is still somewhat questionable in the EU because a) the fly larvae might cause a myiasis (probably a rather theoretical that practical danger) and b) the flies are considered unhygienic. Producers are curently developing procedures to ensure the flies are "clean" by keeping them captive. – Stephie Feb 13 at 17:10

I was under the impression based on what I saw on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern that it is not available outside the area where it is produced, let alone outside of the EU.

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It's currently "illegal" according to EU reguations. There is an ongoing process to legalize it as "heritage", but - to my knowledge - there is no decision yet. – Stephie Feb 13 at 23:34

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