Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Sunday, 24 January 2010

US planning to relax haggis ban

Chef John Paul McLachlan poses with his prize haggis
Haggis, traditionally eaten on Burns night, is banned in the US

The US government said it is planning to relax the ban on imported meats which prevents the sale of haggis.

The Scottish government said it was greatly encouraged by the move, which was also welcomed by haggis producers.

The ban was introduced in 1989 because of concerns about the safety of British meat during the BSE scare.

On the eve of Burns night, the US Department of Agriculture said new regulations were being drafted, in line with international standards.

'Greatly encouraged'

Imports of Scotland's iconic dish were banned by the US 21 years ago because it contains offal ingredients such as sheep lungs.

In the words of Scotland's bard Robert Burns in his Ode to a haggis, the US could be said to have looked down with "sneering, scornful view" on the "great chieftain o' the puddin'-race".

The dish is traditionally served with neeps and tatties on Burns night (25 January).

In my experience when I have encountered American tourists in Scotland they absolutely loved it
Jo MacSween
Haggis maker

Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "I am greatly encouraged to hear that the US authorities are planning a review of the unfair ban on haggis imports.

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

"An increasing number of people at home and abroad are recognising the fact that the Saltire is a stamp of quality.

"It's time for the US authorities to deliver a Burns Night boost and recognise that Scottish haggis is outstanding quality produce."

Jo MacSween, co-director of Macsween Haggis, said it would come as good news to expats and tourists.

She said: "I'm very excited by this news.

"In my experience when I have encountered American tourists in Scotland they absolutely loved it.

"So they will be delighted that next time they come to visit they can not only take it back but hopefully manufacturers like us will actually start shipping it there too."

Ms MacSween said sales of haggis were no longer confined to the Burns Night season in January.

The company has also diversified into products such as haggis nachos, she said.



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