Tam's Tall Tales

- Great Chieftain o' the Pudding Race

Piping in the Haggis at a Burns Supper

Haggis Imports - Outlawed in US Since 1971

Features about traditional Scottish fare often gets a good response from readers and what could be more Scottish than the dear old haggis?

Edinburgh based Macsweens are benefiting from an upsurge in demand. Last year sales were worth 1 million compared to 600,000 in 2011. Tons are exported to 28 countries to help fuel their Burns Nights.

The firm's Jo Macsween said: "Haggis is very popular in Europe, where consumers are engaged with nose-to-tail eating so that every part of an animal is used instead of wasting it. It is actually an ancient global dish and many countries have their own equivalents."

But America is deprived of the delicacy from Scotland. Its import has been outlawed since 1971 as the Department of Agriculture say "sheep's lung is unfit for human consumption". Of course, that doesn't stop American firms from Texas to New England manufacturing lung-free haggis for the US domestic market each January. Those who know about real haggis say that without the lightness created by including sheep's lung, the lung-free product is not a patch on the traditional haggis.

UK and Scottish government officials are trying once again to persuade the US government to remove the import ban. Richard Lochhead, the Scottish Food Secretary commented: "With almost nine million Americans claiming Scots ancestry, there is clearly an appetite in the US for haggis made to traditional recipes".

But it has to be admitted that haggis imports are not high on the agenda for the average US citizen. A 2003 survey suggested that a third of US visitors to Scotland believed that haggis was an animal. Nearly a quarter thought they could catch one. Scots who repeat that joke about haggis (even without the bit about them having legs shorter on one side than the other through running around on mountain slopes) have a lot to answer for...

Please give me whatever feedback comes to mind via tamfromrampant@gmail.com.

Tam O'Ranter
May 2014

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