Haggis under attack!

I enjoyed the haggis I had on my Burns Night. Attacking a central part of the Scottish heritage is certainly not wise. The Scots are very proud of their heritage

Scotland's national dish, haggis, has become the latest foodstuff to be targeted as part of a drive to combat growing levels of obesity among British children, prompting outrage among producers. According to health officials in Scotland, the delicacy -- a sheep's stomach lining stuffed with offal, oatmeal, onions and seasoning -- contains too much fat and salt and should only be given to youngsters once a week.

But the guidance has angered makers of the "love it or hate it" foodstuff, which is traditionally eaten with a tot of whisky on Burn's Night, the annual January 25 celebration of the life of the legendary Scots poet Robert Burns. "With good neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), there's nothing more nutritious than haggis," said Alan Pirie, of butchers James Pirie and Son, the current holders of the sought-after title "Scottish Haggis Master". "It's made of all natural ingredients -- there's no rubbish in it at all. To compare it with processed meat like chicken nuggets or hot dogs is just ridiculous. It's a big knock for us for it to be compared to those."

Haggis was placed on a "restricted" list of foods issued to nurseries, playgroups and childminders as part of a drive by the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh to improve the health of pre-school children under five. The numbers of obese children in Scotland is twice the British average; 20 percent of three-and-a-half-year-olds were overweight, 8.6 percent obese and four percent severely obese in the 2004-05 school year, official statistics show. Mortality rates among adults, particularly in the densely populated "Central Belt" between Glasgow, in the west, and Edinburgh, in the east, are also among the highest in Europe, mainly through alcohol, smoking and a high-fat diet.

The Scottish Executive, which has made a number of moves to improve the nation's health, including an imminent ban on smoking in public places, insisted haggis was not being outlawed but should be eaten in moderation. "The nutritional guidelines are intended to give advice on how to provide a balanced diet over a week," said a spokeswoman. Preventing an obesity epidemic in Britain has been the subject of a number of government initiatives in recent years, including improving school dinners in England and Wales with the help of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.


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