Scottish people in Europe left unable to buy Burns Night haggis because of Brexit

Joanna Taylor
Monday 25 January 2021 16:43
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(Graeme Robertson/Getty Images)

Scots in Europe are struggling to find haggises for Burns Night because of Brexit. 

EU export restrictions mean that it’s currently illegal for individuals to take meat and dairy products into Europe from the UK– including haggis, which usually contains suet and sheep’s pluck (internal organs).

In theory, haggis can still be imported in bulk, although post-Brexit trade between the EU and the UK has already gotten off to a rocky start. Some haggis producers have reported difficulties in shipping their product, while some European supermarkets have reportedly run out. 

Scots traditionally celebrate the poet Robert Burns on 25 January with dinner, music and a series of addresses: including one to the haggis itself. 

But overseas Caledonian societies are said to be resorting to eating tinned haggis this year in some cases, in place of the traditional pudding prepared in Scotland. And because of Brexit rules, individual last minute orders are out. 

One “Scotofile couple" living Paris took matters into their own hands, by making their own haggis.

But others are having to do without. 

Haggis producer Macsween told The Daily Record that they’ve experienced “quite significant difficulties” exporting to individual customers. Managing director James McSween said: 

“On a typical Burns month, we would usually see about 500 parcels going to Europe. This year about 150 have been sent, with up to 70 not being delivered at all.” 

Martin Morgan of the Scottish Meat Wholesalers Association told them: 

"Our biggest challenge is getting consistency on how the rules are applied before the product is dispatched to Europe”.

Defra rules for British people travelling to EU countries state: 

“From 1 January 2021, you will not be able to bring POAO (products of an animal origin) such as those containing meat or dairy (eg a ham and cheese sandwich) into the EU."

This was highlighted when Dutch TV news broadcasted customs officers confiscating ham sandwiches from British lorry drivers arriving in the Netherlands earlier this month. 

When one man asked if he could give up his ham and keep his bread, he was told: 

“No, everything will be confiscated. Welcome to the Brexit, sir, I’m sorry.” 

Burns Night will be a little different this year for Scots at home and abroad where there are lockdown measures in place. 

Festivities between multiple household will have take place via videolink, with or without the traditional haggis. 

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