Britain wants the US to lift a ban on haggis, the (delicious?) Scottish national dish

Toasting the haggis on Jan. 23, 2014 in Alloway, Scotland.


Jeff J Mitchell

Americans don’t know what they’ve been missing.

That, at least, is the view of Scottish haggis producers who have convinced the UK government to push the United States to lift a 43-year-old ban on the Scottish national dish.

UK Environment Secretary Owen Patterson was expected to raise the issue when he met with his US counterpart Tom Vilsack in Washington on Monday.

Previous attempts to get haggis back on US menus have failed. 

For the uninitiated, haggis is a delightful mixture of minced sheep heart and lungs, onion, oatmeal, herbs and spices stuffed inside a — hopefully thoroughly cleaned — sheep’s stomach.

It looks like this on the outside.


And this on the inside.


And you can even have it in a pie. 


But before eating it, you should always put on a kilt and recite the poem "Address to a Haggis," written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1786.


The US banned haggis in 1971, not because the dish sounds revolting, but because US authorities object to sheep lungs being used in food products.

It’s also had a blanket ban on British lamb since the mad cow disease scare back in 1989, which Patterson is also hoping to convince Vilsack is no longer necessary.

The Scots believe the US haggis market could be worth millions of dollars. And they could be right.

The UK haggis market is worth GBP15 million, and with an estimated nine million Americans claiming Scottish ancestry — nearly double Scotland's population — there could be a lot of potential haggis devotees.

Scottish Secretary of State Alistair Carmichael had this to say ahead of Patterson’s meeting with Vilsack:

"In my own constituency, we produce some of the finest lamb in the country, if not the world, so I know just how good Scottish meat can be. It seems only right that the UK government continues to use its considerable influence to open up as many opportunities as possible, to reintroduce our produce where markets have been closed and to create new ones wherever it can.

"As for haggis, all I can say is, the Americans don't know what they're missing. Let's try to put that right, too."

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