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America, Scotland Thinks You’re Ready to Eat Lungs Now

This week, Scotland’s rural affairs secretary will try to convince the American government to allow imports of haggis, a dish banned in the country since 1971 due to US laws prohibiting sheep lungs.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB
November 12, 2015, 1:00pm
Photo via Flickr user Tess Watson

Sick and tired of being the butt of the world's culinary jokes (the deep-fried Mars bar isn't even a thing, guys!), Scotland has been going HAM revamping its food and drink rep. The Scottish government announced 2015 as the country's Year of Food and Drink and traditional cuisine is being championed by London chefs.

So far, it seems to be working. This week, figures revealed that Scottish food and drink production could be on track to take over oil as the country's top earner and initiatives like chef Ben Reade's Edinburgh Food Studio are championing new takes on Scottish food.

READ MORE: Glasgow's Haggis Pakora Is More Than Just Fusion Food

There's just one small, squishy, pink problem. The USDA has prohibited the use of sheep lung in food products since 1971, which makes it kinda hard to export authentic Scottish haggis—a dish consisting of sheep liver, heart, and yup, those breathing bags—to the country.

But now, Scotland is hoping the US could finally be ready to pipe in the haggis. This week, Scotland's rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead will visit the US in an attempt to convince the government to allow Scottish haggis imports.

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Speaking to the BBC, Lochhead said: "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."

One way Lochhead hopes to get around the haggis ban is by "tweaking the recipe" to a version that does not include sheep's lungs. As the BBC reports, several Scottish butchers have already put forward their suggestions for this type of alternative haggis, with one suggesting the use of lamb shoulder instead of lungs.

READ MORE: The USDA Doesn't Want Us to Eat Lungs

Lochhead added: "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."

It's not Scotland's first try at turning America on to haggis. In 2011, Lochhead invited a US delegation to Scotland two days before Burns Night, the supper in celebration of poet Robert Burns at which haggis is usually eaten.

While the success of Scotland's latest attempt to lift the haggis ban remains to be seen, you can't help but admire the country's commitment to sheep innards.