Has Sichuan pepper been banned or not?

I was looking around the web for some recipe ideas and kept seeing people talking about Sichuan pepper being banned in the US. But I know I’ve see it for sale in shops so what’s the deal here? Is there an intrepid band of pepper smugglers subverting our borders?

Sichuan pepper, including husks, seeds and stems

Photo by Ragesoss

Intrigued, I did some checking. It turns out Sichuan pepper was banned in the US starting in the late ’60s. There were fears they carried a citrus virus that could damage the US crop. But about 2005, the FDA decided if the seeds were heated to around 160 degrees, that would kill the virus and we can once again purchase Sichuan pepper.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with it.

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