How would you 'tweak' haggis to beat the US import ban?

Haggis Image copyright Thinkstock

Haggis imports have been outlawed in the US for more than 40 years.

But 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.

Alternative cuts of meat have been suggested to get around the American rules which prevent haggis imports.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Haggis, served with neeps 'n' tatties for Burns Night

How will they 'tweak' our traditional haggis to beat the US import ban?

Butcher Simon Howie said he could see no problem with adapting his haggis recipe for the US market.

He suggested replacing the sheep lung that the recipe calls for with lamb shoulder or flank meat to make it suitable.

Mr Howie, who is the world's largest producer of haggis, said this would change the texture slightly but the taste would be broadly similar.

James Macsween, of Macsween of Edinburgh, said they had already started adapting the recipe using only approved ingredients in anticipation of a change in US law.

Why is haggis banned in the US?

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.

Sheep lungs are "considered an inedible item" in the US, a spokesman for the country's Food Safety and Inspection Service has previously said.

Image copyright Thinkstock

What is haggis?

Recipes for haggis can vary, but it is often comprised of offal - often a mixture made from the sheep's "pluck" - liver, heart and lungs - minced with spices, suet, onions and oatmeal which is soaked in stock then stuffed inside a sheep's stomach bag.

The stuffed stomach is then boiled, and often served with neeps 'n' tatties - or mashed swede and potatoes.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Some haggis ingredients
Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A haggis being boiled

How much could the haggis market be worth to the Scottish economy?

James Macsween, managing director of Macsween of Edinburgh, said lifting the ban on haggis imports to the US was a "massive opportunity" for the Scottish haggis industry.

The US export market would be roughly equivalent to half of the UK sales, Mr Howie estimated.

"We are ready to launch Macsween haggis in the US if there is a change in the current situation by the FDA," said Mr Macsween.

Richard Lochhead, the rural affairs secretary, told the BBC: "Tens of millions of Americans want to enjoy Scotland's national dish.

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

Will the recipe be changed for the haggis sold in Scotland?

Any changes to the recipe would only be for the US market, according to Simon Howie.

The Perthshire-based butcher added: "Haggis is eaten by a large proportion of the Americans who visit Scotland so it makes sense to get the product on the shelves of their home supermarkets.

"Haggis is always a talking point."

Image copyright Getty Images

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