When it comes to food and drink, Scotland is famous for its whiskey and infamous for its haggis. While plenty of people enjoy the dish in Scotland (particularly on Burns Night and during New Year's celebrations), authentic versions of haggis have been illegal to sell in both the U.S. and Canada for years. But just in time for cold winter nights, BBC News reports that a unique variety of the Scottish staple will allow haggis back on Canadian plates for the first time in almost 50 years.
Haggis is made of sheep’s “pluck"—the heart, liver, and lungs—minced with onion, oatmeal, spices, and suet, or hard beef or mutton fat. The savory pudding has been verboten in the U.S. since 1971, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture ruled that the lungs of livestock—a key component of the dish—couldn’t be used as a food ingredient. In the 1990s the U.S. also banned UK livestock imports to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, further distancing itself from haggis, according to Scotland Now. (The U.S. announced in 2016 that it had reached an agreement with the UK to lift the red-meat ban.)
Canada instated a similar lung-products ban in 1971, though it lifted its own embargo on red-meat imports from the UK in 2015. However, the bans on lungs in food products still stand in both countries, forcing haggis producers in Scotland to get creative with their recipes if they want to sell them in North America.
Macsween of Edinburgh, a Scottish meat wholesaler, has created a new, lung-free version of haggis to sell in Canada, according to The National Post. It contains sheep’s heart instead of lung, and is prepared in company facilities that have been pre-approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “It’s as close as we can get to the original recipe using different meats, because the oats and spice mix are the same,” David Rae, Macsween’s commercial director, told the UK newspaper i.
Some food providers have criticized the move, claiming that sheep’s lungs give haggis its fluffy texture and nutty flavor. Others say that the pudding contains lots of ingredients, and that a few missing ones won’t impact its overall taste, the CBC reports.
So far, it’s unclear whether lung-free haggis will also be making its way stateside. But in Canada, the move is expected to rake in big bucks. Scotland’s food and drink exports to Canada are now worth more than $154 million, according to the Toronto Star.
There's also reason to hope that one day, Americans will be able to eat real, authentic Scottish haggis again, lungs and all. The USDA has been hinting about lifting the ban since 2015, though the regulatory change has yet to materialize.
[h/t BBC News]