Britain asks US to end haggis ban after 43 years

The UK's Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is urging his US counterpart to end the 1971 ban on haggis. Scottish haggis – which contains sheep's heart, lungs, and stomach – was banned due to concerns of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

Paul Faith/Pool/Reuters/File
Owen Paterson (L), seen here in 2010 with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is urging the US to lift its haggis ban.

The United Kingdom is renewing efforts to end America’s ban on Scottish haggis, saying there's no longer any reason for it to be in place.

On Monday UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson spoke with his US counterpart Tom Vilsack Monday urging an end the 43-year ban. American's should be able to enjoy "Scotland’s wonderful national dish." according to reports.

The US, however, has held that a key ingredient of the dish – sheep's lung – is unfit for human consumption. Scottish haggis contains sheep’s heart, lungs, and stomach, along with oatmeal, onions, and salt.

The US ban on sheep's lung imports was enacted in 1971, because of concerns that transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs could harm people who consumed it. In 1989, when British cattle producers were hit with an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the US banned all British beef and lamb imports.

This past November, the US lifted the ban on British beef, saying inspection procedures in place protected the public from BSE, but the lamb import ban remains in place.  

There had been reports that the haggis ban would be lifted in early 2010, but the US Department of Agriculture sent out an e-mail stating that the haggis ban wasn’t going to be lifted anytime soon, according to BBC.

Scottish meat producers earlier this month asked Mr. Paterson to raise the issue with US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Paterson has said that he will do whatever he can to support Scotland’s farmers and rural economy, including boosting exports of haggis, according to multiple media outlets. He is also asking Mr. Vilsack to lift the ban on lamb.

Many haggis producers look forward to the possible end of the ban. James Macsween, owner of haggis maker Macsween of Edinburgh, says the company is excited for the possible opportunities to expand their market, according to the International Business Times.

The haggis market is reportedly worth £15 million ($25.7 million) in the UK.

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