The U.S. (allegedly) bans Vegemite...can Marmite be far behind?

I really had to look twice at the calendar to make sure I hadn't suddenly skipped ahead a few months to April 1st when I read this news story:

THE US has banned Vegemite, even to the point of searching Australians for jars of the spread when they enter the country.

I must admit that I am not a fan of Vegemite. However, I am a diehard fan of its bitter rival in the world of salty yeast extract spreads, Marmite. Since the offending ingredient that got Vegemite banned is folic acid, I immediately became concerned - does Marmite have added (as opposed to naturally occuring, as in many vegetables) folic acid too?

Indeed, it does.

This means, Marmite may get banned in the U.S. too, if this convoluted logic is followed.

I am wondering if this means we will have to set up clandestine smuggling operations to keep English expats in the U.S. supplied with Marmite.

I'm wondering if such supply chains exist already for Vegemite. If so, all power to you, intrepid Aussies!

Will the Australian government now retaliate by banning peanut butter? After all, a small percentage of the population is seriously allergic to nuts. Besides, it was invented in America. It must be evil.

If Marmite follows, the British government may fight back by revoking Ruby Wax's visa.

Seriously, this is just insanity. What idiot government official got this law through? And who are the customs officers hassling travelers for yeast extract?

More: Vegemite ban: Back off, Bush!

[Edit later:] It's not quite sure if this ban is a fact. We'll see if it turns out to be an urban myth.

[Edit much later:] More links: The Museum of Hoaxes is not sure. Cerebral Soup is skeptical, and points out that the original article on the Herald Sun site has been removed.

If it was a hoax I wonder who initiated it? Did the writer of the article intend it to be a joke? If so it was a pretty good one, combining patriotism, the heavy-handidness of food police and government restrictions on our private choices, anti-Americanism (or anti-Bushism maybe) and of course, a food that people have a very strong reaction to, for or against.

When I used to hang out on the Travel Forum on Compuserve in the early '90s, the longest discussion thread ever, which literally went on for months, was about Vegemite vs. Marmite. I just say, let black, viscous salty spreads live forever!

Final note: for what it's worth, Amazon US carries Marmite, (even a 12 pack) but not Vegemite, as of today.

[Addendum: I comparing Marmite, Vegemite and Cenovis (what?) head to head.]

Filed under:  essays ingredients offbeat marmite

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NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! this can't be true, (okay I don't care about the vegemite) but marmite, can't be possible, not my Marmite :(

I think it's a joke. If you click on the link to write a protest letter to Bush, you get this wacky missive:

Dear President Bush, Australians have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Americans throughout a century of conflict. From our Diggers and your Doughboys enduring the mud and blood of the Western Front to the crusade against Hitler and Tojo, to Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, Australia has been a stalwart U.S. ally. Yet today that alliance is threatened, not by despots and terror, but by the high-handed actions of your Food and Drug Administration, which has banned the importation, purchase and consumption of our beloved breakfast spread, Vegemite. Mr. President, this is serious. Italians have pasta, Germans love a sausage, the Brits would be lost without their baked beans, and your fellow countrymen revere mom's apple pie. Well, we Australians thrive on Vegemite, which is not only sensational on toast but promotes good health as well. Tear down this ban, Mr. President! Allow Australians living in your country full and unfettered access to Vegemite, the spread of champions. Don't allow the food fascists of the FDA to jeopardise the respect and admiration that has long characterised relations between our two proud nations.

Also, there are no actual facts, dates, or cases cited in the article, which is generally indicative of either a comedic story or a regurgitation of "something I heard by some guy".

That being said, we Americans have certainly done stupider things, so I wouldn't doubt this either.

It's an outrage that vegemite is banned. Please consider signing my petition at and help get our favourite Aussie icon unbanned.

This is a legitimate petition and site

I think it may actually be true, it's been picked up by my local news media (I'm in Melbourne, Australia) and has been reported on by a few different news organisations across print and TV.

Now the skeptic in me is wondering if this is some kind of odd marketing ploy for Vegemite... though it doesn't make too much sense...

No love lost between me and Vegemite - but as you well know - if Marmite was to suffer the same fate I will be taking a petition to the White House!

thanks for alerting us to this worrisome story.

I can stockpile...

Two things, on the other hand:

a) It is of course for sure that vegemite and marmite will be confiscated when you try to get it on board of a plane in your hand luggage...

b) What about getting Marmite (or Cenovis) into Australia? doesn't it count as "foodstuff"?

Sam, i guess there is no need to worry just yet...

The thought of a Vegemite/Marmite based liquid explosive boggles the mind.

Stone me ! Is that why They confiscated my jar of Marmite at Gatwick January '07 ? How does one detonate Marmite ? - Perhaps one has to use Extract of Politicians' Brains; very hard to find.

here's a follow-up article:
US denies Vegemite ban

Thanks for the link kat. I'm sort of speculating, but I am guessing that some Aussies did indeed get their Vegemite confiscated, but not because it itself is banned but because of the recent bans against all liquid things. And maybe they weren't told why the Vegemite had to go and they just made a guess at it. Though that Kraft spokeswoman is a mystery....

I also should have mentioned that one doesn't even need to import Vegemite. It's available here in supermarkets.

Hooray for Snopes to the rescue!

Folate is essential for healthy development. Banning all folate and folic acid additives to food would only increase rates of birth deformities such as spina bifida and folate deficiency in adults; even strongly restricting its addition to food borders on the ridiculous. I can't imagine how this could be at all true, unless the US has truly gone off the deep end.