Rejoice, US haggis eaters: Scotland scores an offal victory

Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Image: Reuters/Russell Cheyne
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Chalk one up for meat-related freedom.

Meetings between a Scottish trade delegation and US government officials this week began thawing a decades-old ban of imported haggis from American soil.

USDA officials agreed to publish draft rules next year that, if approved, could allow haggis imports as early as 2017, the office of Richard Lochhead, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, told Quartz.

Imports of Scotland’s famed sausage-on-steroids have been banned in the US since 1971. Traditional haggis is a mix of spices, oatmeal, onions, beef or lamb trimmings, one sheep’s stomach or ox secum, and the heart and lungs of one lamb.

According to federal regulations, livestock lungs are fine to feed to pets, but not humans. In addition, the US has outlawed meat imports from Britain since 1989.

A Scottish delegation arrived in the US this week to pitch a compromise: let us sell you our haggis, and we’ll leave out the lungs.

“The reformulated version will still look like a haggis and it will still taste like a haggis, and if this is given the green light it would open up a massive market for Scottish producers,” Lochhead told Quartz. Haggis is a £15 million ($23 million) industry in the UK. Producers are hoping that interest from the US’s 9 million people of Scottish ancestry could be worth as much as half that.

A USDA spokesman confirmed that the draft rules are happening, but wouldn’t speculate on a timeline.

He also confirmed that the government isn’t budging on sheep lungs. They are “inedible,” according to the US Food Safety and Inspection Service.