Scottish savoury pudding could soon be back on US food menus. The news comes amid a rule rethink about their embargo on lamb imports from Scotland.
Note: We first published this article on seeing an end to the ban on traditional haggis in 2015. See the updated section on the rise in exports to Canada for Burns Night 2019.
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. Next, a US ban on imports of all beef and lamb from the United Kingdom followed in 1989.
The outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) caused the food embargo.
So, millions of Americans who celebrate Burns Night on January the 25th were subjected to inferior local haggis dishes. But, a rethink on lamb import regulations could soon see the outlaw ended.
Haggis recipes vary, but traditional Scottish haggis is a savoury pudding. It contains sheep's or calf's pluck (made from heart, liver, and lungs of an animal as food).
In case you were wondering:
The dish is minced up with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and then mixed with stock. Traditionally, you 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. If so, they should then become law sometime during 2017. He said:
"Getting back into the US market in 2017 would unlock a huge potential. 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's lungs.
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is an agency of 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.
So, here's how it works:
Sheep lung material from foreign inspection systems suffer the same rules. That's according to the public health regulatory agency. Haggis producers suggested 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 at the same time.
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The new year saw a Burns Night boost for haggis exports from Scotland to Canada. In fact, they exported around £25,000 worth of haggis to Canada in January 2019.
Scots in Canada celebrated Burns Night with a hearty serving of haggis. And it's all thanks to the rise in exports from the largest producer of the iconic meat pudding in Scotland.
The supper includes Scotland's national dish - haggis. In fact, the famous poet Robert Burns, referred to it as the 'great chieftain o the puddin'-race'.
And the best part?
What do Scots was it down with? As a rule, they will wash it down with a wee dram of Scotch Whisky, of course!
Macsween has 60 employees and manufactures 1,900 tonnes of haggis from its factory in Loanhead. Countries they export it to include Dubai, France, Germany, Singapore, and the USA.
Their range of haggis products include gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian haggis versions. That means there is a seat at the table for everyone on Burns Night.
The company became the first to export the famous dish to Canada since 1971. How? The breakthrough came after they developed a new recipe that met Canada's food safety regulations.
Figures suggest 4.7 million Scots live in Canada. Macsween shipped out £25,000 worth of haggis so they could celebrate Burns Night in January 2019.
Note: An advantage for Macsween haggis is that it is available in English and French language packaging, especially for the Canadian market.
Rule Change Could See End to Traditional Haggis Ban