Scottish savoury pudding could soon be back on US food menus. The news comes amid a rule rethink of their embargo on lamb imports from Scotland.
HAGGIS IMPORT BAN: The Scottish agriculture minister confirmed the results of new rulings.
He said the government in America is preparing to lift their longstanding haggis ban. It means they could lift the ban on Scotch lamb products before 2017.
In 1971 the United States introduced a ban on sheep lungs. This is one of the ingredients of authentic and traditional Scottish haggis.
Haggis imports stopped in the same year. This got followed by a US ban on imports of all beef and lamb from the United Kingdom in 1989.
The outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) caused the food embargo.
So millions of Americans who celebrated Burns Night each January were subjected to inferior local haggis dishes. Thus, the rethink on lamb import regulations could soon see the outlaw ended.
Haggis recipes vary, but the traditional Scots haggis is a savoury pudding. It contains sheep's or calf's pluck (heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food).
The dish gets minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and then mixed with stock. Traditionally, it would soak in the stock before encasing it inside the stomach of the animal.
Nowadays, it is often encased in an artificial casing instead. It is then boiled and served with mashed swede and potatoes, or as they say in bonnie Scotland - neeps 'n' tatties.
The US Department of Agriculture confirmed they are discussing the process of ending a longstanding ban on Scotch lamb. It specifically addresses their current rulings on ovine (sheep) and caprine (goat) products.
It took many years of campaigning and lobbying trips to Washington by successive ministers.
But, the current Scottish agriculture secretary now believes he has finally cracked the restrictions. He believes there is a plan that will finally succeed.
He predicted that draft rules on lifting the ban on imports of Scotch lamb will get published in 2016. They should then become law sometime in 2017. He said:
"Getting back into the US market in 2017 would unlock a huge market. Not to mention millions of pounds of business for our Scotch lamb and haggis producers".
The US considered lifting the ban in 2010, but their policy remained in force. The minister also conceded that the traditional recipe would need some amending. This was because the US did not plan to lift the ban on sheep lungs.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). They determined that sheep lungs cannot enter the country as a human food. The main reason is because it is inedible and is not inspected for use as an edible material.
Sheep lung material from foreign inspection systems suffer the same rules according to the public health regulatory agency. Haggis producers suggested that the pudding does not need that part of the sheep. This is because the heart and kidneys are acceptable for the majority of traditional recipes.
There are around 10 million US citizens claiming Scottish heritage. So there will be a ready-made market if the proposed lifting of the haggis ban goes ahead. Extra exports would be a real boost for producers and farmers and benefit the economy.
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Rule Change Could See End to Traditional Haggis Ban