Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Crikey! The U.S. Bans Vegemite (Maybe)

News reports from down under (where women glow and men chunder) say the U.S. has banned the importation of the Australian culinary staple Vegemite.

This is a serious issue. One blogger at Homeland Stupidity has done a little investigative journalism and ordered a sample from Oz. It appears to have arrived without delay, leading to questions on whether there is, in fact, a ban. Aussie newspapers have quoted a Kraft spokesperson as explaining that the folate added to Vegemite is apparently only permitted in U.S. grains and cereal products.

When all else fails, I turn to Snopes, which declares this story to be false. But, the explanation clearly indicates that U.S. rules prohibit boosting folate in non-grain food products and that commercial importations would be a violation of U.S. regulations. Snopes, however, concludes that because the FDA has not asked Customs to seek out Vegemite in the possession of arriving passengers, the story is false. I think they need to parse this out a little more finely.

The story is fascinating to me because for a short period in my ill-spent youth, I lived in Australia. That period was 1980 and I attended high school there as an exchange student.
During that time, I ate a number of odd foods including some crab-like thing that I think was called a beach bug. I also learned to drink beer. Mostly, I drank Fosters before it was made in Canada but also Tooth's. I hope this does not come as a shock to my parents.

I enjoyed my time in Australia. I think a major reason for that is that I never ate Vegemite. I tasted it. I tasted it several times. Each time, I realized that it is not what Americans would call "food." Rather, it is more like an ingredient. This stuff is a salty, malty, pungent yeast extract that is not dissimilar to straight soup base. Bite a bouillon cube and you'll get a decent idea of Vegemite.

But, if there is a break in the supply chain for ex-pat Aussies living in the U.S., there may be repercussions. They take this stuff pretty seriously. That means we all need to be on the lookout for bomb carrying wombats and boomerang tossing emus. And whatever you do, stay away from Nicole Kidman. She is likely to be very cranky.


Anonymous said...

a) Nicole is likely already cranky 'cause her new man is under lock & key since he can't seem to stop putting illegal substances up his nose; and

2) Do your 'rents read your site?

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,

Have you seen this page on CBP?


digital signature sharepoint said...

I have also heard stories about this that the U.S. has banned the importation of the Australian culinary staple Vegemite.Is it really a rumor and nothing more than that? Can you suggest a way to make this sure.I want to confirm if its truth