America's long wait for haggis may be over

Kunal Dutta
Monday 25 January 2010 01:00

It has been banned in America since 1989 when authorities decided Britain's BSE outbreak was enough to rule the lungs of Scottish sheep off its menu.

But now Haggis, the dish dubbed as the "great chieftain o' the pudding race" could be set to make its way back to America, after the US Government announced plans to relax legislation introduced on imported meats that has traditionally prevented its sale.

The ban was introduced in 1989 because of concerns about the safety of British meat in wake of the BSE outbreak. The issue remained a Transatlantic sticking point with the Food Standards Agency disputing such concerns, arguing that there is no reason to restrict haggis imports.

Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture said new regulations were being drafted in line with international standards. A spokeswoman told The Sunday Times the review was being carried out in line of a ruling from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) that sheep lung – a core ingredient of the Burns Night dish which will be consumed tonight in homes across the UK – is safe. She said: "By closely aligning our import rules with the OIE, we will allow the importation of certain ruminant products that do not contain tissues associated with BSE infectivity or ruminants raised under conditions where they were not fed prohibited materials associated with spreading BSE."

The Scottish Government welcomed the move, which coincides with Burn's Night, the traditional supper held tonight to celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns. Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead described the news as "greatly encouraging".

He added: "We are in regular contact with the industry and believe reversing the ban would deliver a vote of confidence in Scottish producers, and allow American consumers to sample our world-renowned national dish."

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