Food Policy

Baylen Linnekin on the Campaign to Free the Haggis


Foter / Creative Commons

Haggis is the sort of food that some people love to mock, and others love to eat—if they have the stomach for it (and other unlikely ingredients). But authentic haggis contains lungs, and their use in dishes prepared for humans has been forbidden in the United States since 1971.

Well, that just gets the Scots' tempers in an ferment, and they've enlisted the British government to push once again to overturn the ban. Frequent Reason contributor Baylen Linnekin has the story over at Vice:

The reasoning behind the USDA's ban on lungs is generally couched in terms of food safety. Fluids—specifically, ones that might make you squeamish, including stomach fluids—sometimes make their way into the lungs of an animal during the slaughtering process.

An 1847 treatise recommends parboiling the lungs "to permit the phlegm and blood to disgorge from the[m]," one issue the USDA regulations sought to address.

The USDA ban has succeeded not only in halting the import of authentic haggis prepared in Scotland, but also on the sale of sheep lungs for use in haggis made in this country.

Notably, the US ban doesn't just target haggis. While often painted as a "haggis ban," the USDA rule also bans traditional lung-containing dishes from a variety of cultures, including those common to China, Nepal, and several European countries.

Linnekin notes that the British government's participation in an effort to overturn this particular U.S. food rule may well be driven by a desire to influence the upcoming vote on Scottish independence. But if political pragmatism expands your right to choke down an authentic national delicacy seemingly invented on a dare, so be it!

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  1. Looks like alien pods, be careful!

  2. The kind of people who would be interested in importing haggis are probably immune to most types of poisoning already anyway, so the safety argument is weak.

    Can you grow your own sheep and slaughter them to use the lungs in a homemade haggis dish, or is that covered by the commerce clause per Wickard?

    1. Along the same lines as raw milk, this is a sales prohibition, not one on production.

  3. “But if political pragmatism expands your right to choke down an authentic national delicacy seemingly invented on a dare, so be it!”

    I will send my second around later on today. Claymores at dawn!

    1. There’s a category called “Food invented by desperate starving people”. “Delicacies” like Haggis and Escargot are on that list, because you know they didn’t want to eat that, they just didn’t want to die even more.

      1. While, I can’t speak for haggis, escargot taste good. Invented by desparate starving people? Yeah, probably. Doesn’t mean they didn’t learn over time how to make it.

        1. Yeah, but butter and garlic can’t make haggis taste good.

          Even bacon couldn’t make haggis taste good.

          1. Again, never tried it. So, I can’t say. On the other hand, if it is seamless with scrapple, it can’t be all bad.

      2. THere is definitely food that people wouldn’t eat if it weren’t traditional. Lutefisk comes to mind. But plenty of people seem to genuinely like haggis. I don’t think I’ve had proper haggis, but it sounds pretty good to me. It’s just a big, weird looking sausage.

  4. Free Haggis — who would pay for that shit 😉

  5. Deep dish haggis for the win.

    1. Deep fried haggis for the Glasgow win.

  6. I have a hard time believing the people who would eat haggis are the same people asking that government appoint a full time social worker to every kid in the country.

    1. You would be wrong. I have on several occasions been invited to Robbie Burns Day shindigs peopled by the typical hipster, “ironically cultured” liberal angelino fucks who look down on you if you bring the wrong scotch, revel in their terrible scottish brogues, gleefully delight in how they went to the local farmers to get their haggis fixings.

      Every single fucking one of them would be the first to tell you that they could run your life better for you, and that’s why they support every nanny-state BS that comes down the road.

      1. Erp- I realize now you were talking about the new scottish law being proposed. My bad.

        1. I would guess a second Reason commenter from Scotland has shown up, except you would have known to spell it Rabbie. Where are you talking about?

  7. I’m sure many in the commentariat enjoy “lung-containing dishes from a variety of cultures”, if you catch my drift.

  8. Maybe we just need the EXIM bank to loan the haggis makers some money to properly process the lungs. Win-Win!

  9. I’m all for eating new and weird food. Haggis seems quite tame, compared to what other people around the world eat IMO.

    1. I’d try it. It sounds a little like scrapple, and I love scrapple.

  10. His knife see rustic Labour dight,
    An cut you up wi ready slight,
    Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
    Like onie ditch;
    And then, O what a glorious sight,
    Warm-reekin, rich!

    1. Burma Shave.

    2. “Please write your comment in English.”

    3. Can I have fifty pounds to mend the shed?
      I’m right on my uppers.
      I can pay you back when this postal order comes from Australia.
      Hope the bladder trouble’s getting better.

      1. + whats 20 pounds to the bloody Midlands Bank

  11. Speaking of things Scot, a serious question: When did it become a thing to play “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes at funerals?

    1. Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan

    2. If I’m reading Wikipedia correctly, fairly recently.

      Although Collins used it as a catharsis for her opposition to the Vietnam War, two years [i.e. 1972] after her rendition, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, senior Scottish regiment of the British Army, recorded an instrumental version featuring a bagpipe soloist accompanied by a pipe and drum band. The tempo of their arrangement was slowed to allow for the bagpipes, but it was based on Collins’: it began with a bagpipe solo introduction similar to her lone voice, then it was accompanied by the band of bagpipes and horns

      Whole thing here:…..d_versions

    3. All I know is, some key note has to be played a half step flat, and I hate it.

  12. Is this the same USDA that allows Pink Slime and cow anus in hamburger?

    1. Other than the name, what is wrong with pink slime?

      1. Other than the name, what is wrong with Haggis?

        1. More seriously, it’s the ‘food created by starving people’ I mentioned above. I don’t see much point in blocking people from acquiring it, but I will pick on it for being far less appetizing than mechanically separated meat.

          1. Lobster got its’ start that way. Poor folks picked ’em up off the shore ( in the 1600s they were so numerous that they washed up with every high tide) and boiled them. Nothin fancy about it.

            1. The Lobsters, not the people. Then again…

        2. Other than the name, what is wrong with cow anus?

          1. Because “Cow Anus” should be rock band, not a food.

            1. Come to think of it, didn’t Kennedy interview the drummer for Cow Anus on The Independents?

              1. No, she married him.

                1. Now, let’s not go there.

                  1. You opened the door and I walked right in.

              2. Is that Mexican cow anus and can I have sex with it?

          2. There’s nothing wrong with anything if it tastes good and isn’t dangerous to eat.

  13. An 1847 treatise recommends parboiling the lungs “to permit the phlegm and blood to disgorge from the[m],” one issue the USDA regulations sought to address.

    If so, then we pretty much know the ban is retarded. It doesn’t rely on any real science, but more the “eeeewwww” factor. People in Scotland eat this stuff regularly and we aren’t hearing of any massive outbreaks of death and disase. Gee, you think maybe haggis makers might have learned a thing or two about how to make food that doesn’t kill their customers?

    1. My guess is that the people who enjoy the taste of haggis find death or serious illness to feel better than their regular lives.

      1. *narrows gaze, continues sharpening claymore*

  14. 1971 the year we abolished the gold standard and lung meat. Clearly there is a link.

    1. People were smuggling gold in Haggis?

    2. And like dollars lungs inflate all the time!

      1. zing we have a winner

  15. A turd without corn in it is still a turd.

  16. I ate tons of Scrapple before moving to Scotland. I switched on day one to Haggis. It was seamless.

    1. Ha, you just answered my question. I think I want haggis now. Do they fry haggis, or do you just eat like a pile of it?

      1. Proper approach is steamed. Scottish breakfast often includes it fried up. I generally fry it up in the morning. Then they have it steamed at the hospital caf for lunch and I eat it AGAIN.

        Sorry for delay, I was off having a non haggis dinner. 🙁

        1. Alright, I’m convinced. Now I want haggis and scrapple. And whiskey.

  17. Ok you guys, all joking aside. Was born and raised in the Scottish borders and am now a yank. My mum cooked haggis for me as a kid, it was a choice on the menu as a student. By the time I knew what haggis was who gives a fuck, it’s delicious. You guys are missing out, good haggis, mashed potatoes, turnip and a good whiskey, one of the great dishes of all time! I’m back home to my birthplace for a few days and have just got back from the local supermarket with a haggis, my mum will cook it and it will be great! For my fellow yanks good haggis should not be greasy and should be spicy, serve with mashed potatoes, turnip and a good whiskey….yummy!! My fellow yanks, you don’t know what your missing!

    1. If you bribed me with whiskey, I’d try the haggis.

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