Haggis recipe 'should be tweaked' to beat US import ban

Haggis Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Scottish haggis contains sheep's lung, which is banned in food products in the United States

The recipe for haggis should be "tweaked" to get round a decades-old ban on the food in the US, Scotland's rural affairs secretary has said.

Richard Lochhead, who will be in the US this week, said selling Scottish haggis to the Americans would be worth millions to the Scottish economy.

Haggis imports have been outlawed in the US since 1971.

The country's food standards agency prohibits sheep lungs - one of the key ingredients - in food products.

Mr Lochhead flew to Canada on Sunday and will travel on to the US later.

During his time in Washington DC, he will try to persuade the US government to allow Scottish producers to import haggis to the country - the latest in a series of attempts by the Scottish and UK governments to do so.

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Media captionEnvironment Secretary Richard Lochhead says the traditional recipe for haggis could be tweaked to allow exports to the US market

The rural affairs secretary told the BBC: "Tens of millions of Americans want to enjoy Scotland's national dish. Now it may be that we'd have to tweak the recipe for haggis to get into the US market, because some of the ingredients - such as sheep lungs - have been banned since 1971.

"But I think our own producers here in Scotland are up for tweaking the recipe so that US customers can still get as close as possible to the real thing.

"And if we managed to get into that market that would create jobs back here in Scotland and millions of pounds to the Scottish economy."

Tweaking the haggis

Two leading Scottish butchers have said they are happy to make changes to their traditional Scottish recipes to make it suitable for the US market.

They are looking into adapted haggis recipes which do not include ingredients - such as sheep lung - which are not allowed across the pond.

Read more about their plans.

Image copyright Getty Images

The US ban on imports was raised in June 2014 by the UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who spoke to senior officials from the Obama administration after speaking to producers at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.

Mr Lochhead has also made a previous attempt to persuade Americans to accept the haggis, inviting a delegation from the US to come to Scotland in 2011 in a bid to overturn the ban.

And in 2005, President George W Bush was even lobbied directly on haggis when he was at the G8 summit in Gleneagles.

But so far the US Food and Drug Administration has refused to reverse the decision.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Many attempts have been made to persuade US officials to reverse the ban on haggis which has been in place for 44 years

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