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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 13:39 GMT
Haggis becomes hot health topic
Guidelines call for limited consumption of haggis
A debate has broken out on the eve of Burns Night after haggis was placed on a government list of restricted foods for nursery schools.

The celebrated dish, according to the classification, should only be eaten once a week - in common with foods such as turkey twizzlers and burgers.

The inclusion by officials of the national dish on the blacklist has angered traditional haggis producers.

Butcher James Pirie from Newtyle, in Angus, called it "ridiculous".

The latest advice is part of a drive to extend the executive's Hungry for Success fight against childhood obesity to the under-fives.

Consultation on the Nutritional Guidance for Early Years took place between March and June last year.

Haggis have all got the best of ingredients
James Pirie

The recipe for haggis varies but it can be made using a sheep's stomach bag which holds a mix of sheep's liver, heart and lung, oatmeal, suet, stock, onions and spices.

Mr Pirie, whose business won the 2005 Scottish Haggis Master Championship, was furious that the dish was placed on the list.

"It's absolutely ridiculous - you simply can't compare the two. Haggis have all got the best of ingredients," he said.

"They're all fresh. They're not mass-produced, they're hand-produced."

Mr Pirie added: "If you go to your local butcher the haggis are all specially done to a special recipe.

"They've all got good ingredients and no harm can possibly come out of eating good haggis.

"We make terrific products for the kids using haggis. There's not a great deal of fat in haggis."

However, an Scottish Executive spokeswoman said: "Haggis is tasty but due to fairly high salt and fat content young children should only indulge in moderation.

Because of the saturated fat and salt in haggis it's not desirable for children to have it more than once a week
Brian Ratcliffe

"The nutritional guidelines are intended to give advice on how to provide a balanced diet over a week.

"Nothing has been banned but certain foods should be eaten in moderation."

Nutritionist Brian Ratcliffe, of Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, agreed.

"It's not to say that haggis is not a good dish but because of its saturated fat and salt it's not desirable for children to have it more than once a week," he said.

"Producers could perhaps go down the line of changing the recipe by reducing the amount of animal fat and salt to make a more acceptable variety."

However, he added: "You still wouldn't want children eating it every day. There are many foods you wouldn't want young people eating every single day."

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