Is eating human flesh actually a crime?

(Do not need answer fast. Just something I wondered about last night when I couldn’t sleep.)

Suppose someone (let’s call her Jill) was in a car accident, and besides lesser damage, her left arm was torn off. It was recovered and sent to the hospital along with her, in the hopes it could be reattached, but no go – the joint was too badly damaged or too much flesh was lost or whatever.

In Real Life, I presume the limb ends up being destroyed, most likely incinerated as medical ‘waste.’ But does Jill have any say in this? The arm belonged to her pre-accident, and so surely it still belongs to her afterwards. Could she insist that it be given back to her?

And if so, is she free to do any legal thing she wants with it? Like she could donate it to that guy who makes the flayed human body art/exhibits. Or she could arrange to have it buried in a cemetery, to have it be added to the coffin when the rest of her dies. (I know there are some groups who care about bodily integrity for the afterlife.)

But what I really wondered is if Jill could put the severed arm up for sale? I’m picturing an ad for “One prime female human arm. One prior owner, carefully cared for, non-smoker, gently used.” Probably eBay would refuse but you could stick it on Facebook or something, and wait for it to go viral.

Presuming Jill reports the income from the sale on the appropriate line of her income tax form that year, has she committed any offense?

Similarly for the buyer, who we’ll call Jack. Is it a crime just to buy the arm? Does it matter what he does with it? He could have it taxidermied into a lamp base, for example. Or just keep it frozen and use it for a Halloween gross-out decoration each year.

But how about eating it then? Outside of the “ew! Ick! Gross!” factor, is that a crime? Say he chops it up, uses it as the flavoring for a nice cassoulet, and shares it with a bunch of other “I’m just curious what it would taste like” gourmets?

Would any laws be broken in doing this? (Since it might depend on the local laws, lets say both Jack and Jill are residents of Massachusetts so no interstate commerce applies, and the exchange happens person to person so no hassles with the Post Office or other delivery co. regulations. )

I really don’t know, but I need to point out the fantastic username / post combo.

Short answer, no it’s not illegal.

The selling and all the other parts of your question most likely run afoul of various regulations but the actual eating isn’t illegal.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be other issues surrounding it like laws governing disposal of human remains not to mention how they got dead in the first place.

Do you know the Donners? The party wasn’t successful but none of the living went to jail, I don’t think.:wink:
Mr.Wrekkers grandfathers arm was cut off in a saw mill accident. The family lore says he insisted his arm be recovered and buried in his back yard. He wanted it dug up when he died and reburied with him. It wasn’t done. The old family place was sold to developers and is now a housing addition. I often wonder whose yard it is in.

Video on the topic at:

Basically if you find a legal way to acquire human flesh, eating it is not illegal.

I feel sorry for those folks, but it seems like a monument should be built for the folks who left at the right time of year.

Relevant cite:

Short answer- no, but it would be very difficult to do so without running afoul of some other law.

So sayeth beowulff, the hero famous for ripping out Grendel’s arm . . .

IANAL, but as far it is consensual, it is not a crime. As for OP’s scenario, if you replace “culinary experience” with “scientific research” that would be slightly more acceptable to most of modern societies. OTOH. You can go step further and make a lamp shade out of that arm’s skin. Hnn?

Huh, very interesting answers. Especially that the cannibalism isn’t illegal, but that other laws might come into play. Makes me think of those gangsters who get nailed for tax evasion while getting away with murder and whatall.

Thinking along those lines, I’ll bet the big hangup would be with FDA regulations. I mean, the ‘food’ wasn’t prepared at an FDA approved facility, wasn’t inspected and stamped or whatever they do with meat.
And maybe the State would want its pound of flesh (heh) sales tax.

Probably be okay with both of them if Jill just gave the arm to Jack, right?