Burns Night: Scottish celebrations scuppered in America as haggis is still banned

Burns Night: Scottish celebrations scuppered in America as haggis is still banned

Haggis is eaten to celebrate the life of Robert Burns

Thursday, January 25, 2018

You might think all Scottish people across the world are going to tuck into some haggis tonight for Burns Night, but those in America are to be bitterly disappointed.

The delicacy is traditionally made with sheep's heart, stomach, liver and lung as well as onion, suet and oatmeal, to mark the birthday of poet Robert Burns and celebrate his career.

This mixture is then boiled in the stomach of a sheep and often served with turnips and potatoes, affectionately known as neeps and tatties.

Admittedly it does sound like an odd mixture, but surely it can't be that bad? Well apparently it is to the people who matter in America, where haggis has been banned.

How might this happen, I hear you ask? Well, the US banned the use of lungs in food in 1971 and the ban is still in place today. The US Department of Agriculture states “livestock lungs shall not be saved for use as human food."

This is because, back in 1971, many sheep and cattle were affected by the degenerative disease scrapie, sparking concern about whether this could be passed on to humans. But no scientific evidence has proved it can be passed on or shown that it has actually become part of our food chain.

As if matters couldn't get any worse for the Scots living across the Atlantic, in 1997 the US banned British imports of red meats as it is was thought there could be a link between the human and bovine forms of mad cow disease.

There are some alternative haggis recipes being made that use American meat, however many have claimed they're just not as tasty as the traditional Scottish version.

Light at the end of the tunnel

Finally, after nearly 50 years, there is some hope for the Scots in America, as the ban on British lamb imports is likely to be lifted. Sadly, however, this is not expected to come into effect until the summer.

An agreement was reached which saw the Government in the UK gave the US a dossier last year, which detailed how standards have improved on British farms since the 1990s.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government has said: “Discussions with the US Department of Agriculture are ongoing. We are hopeful restrictions on the export of lamb and haggis will be lifted in the first half of this year.

"We continue to support Scottish haggis producers as they work to find a recipe which meets US requirements.”

So whilst the ban is still in place, it seems there is some light at the end of the tunnel for those Scots who want to celebrate Burns Night in the most traditional way possible.