Haggis recipe could be tweaked to beat US ban

It is a national dish beloved by expats and the Scottish diaspora, but for aficionados in the US, haggis has long been off the menu.

Could haggis be available in the US at last?

Now, hopes are high that a four-decade-long ban on the delicacy will finally be overcome.

Manufacturers of the traditional fare will this week join a Scottish Government delegation in an attempt to convince authorities in the US to reconsider the long-standing veto.

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If successful, it could open up a lucrative new multi-million market, with as many as 9.2 million Americans claiming Scottish ancestry.

The ban, in place since 1971, guards against the import of sheep lungs, a traditional ingredient in haggis, but which is not regarded as fit for human consumption in the US.

In an attempt to get around the ban, makers of the dish are considering ways to “tweak” the recipe, according to Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs secretary.

Earlier this year, Conservative peer Lord McColl of Dulwich urged the UK government to “redouble” its efforts to lift the ban on the “wholesome food,” which, he said, “satisfies hunger very much more than the junk food the Americans consume”.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Lochhead said he was optimistic of finding a way to expand the average American palate.

“Tens of millions of Americans want to enjoy Scotland’s national dish,” he explained. “It may be that we 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 for the Scottish economy.”

Mr Lochhead will be accompanied on the US trip by James Macsween, the director of Macsween of Edinburgh, one of the country’s best-known haggis makers.

However, other manufacturers said that although the prospect of a new market was good news, it remained unclear how they would maintain the “rich flavour” the lungs give the dish.

Sandy Crombie, the owner of Crombies of Edinburgh, a butchers on Broughton Street, said the lungs were crucial to any self-respecting haggis recipe.

He said: “It’s the lungs that make haggis.”