US haggis ban should be overturned, says UK minister

Guy Bentley
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The UK government is attempting to convince US authorities that traditional Scottish Haggis is safe to eat, so as to overturn a decades-old ban on the highland delicacy.

Haggis imports have been prohibited in the US for 43 years following an embargo on food containing sheep lung.

Environment secretary Owen Paterson will be hoping to convince US secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack that the ban is unnecessary in meetings to be held on Monday.

Should Paterson succeed it would the second time this year the US has warmed to UK produce. Earlier in 2014 a ban on UK beef imports was overturned after 20 years. The US had been concerned that BSE could infect the human food chain.

Paterson made his case in front of the Royal Highland Show last week: "I share many haggis producers' disappointment that American diners are currently unable to enjoy the taste of Scotland's wonderful national dish in their own country".

Paterson is hoping to enjoy greater success than Scottish food secretary Richard Lochhead who raised the issue several years ago. The haggis market, which is worth around £15m in the UK, has great potential on the other side of pond, according to Lochhead.

"With almost nine million Americans claiming Scots ancestry, there is clearly an appetite in the US for haggis made to traditional recipes", said Lochhead

It is hoped the repeal of the haggis ban could be part of the proposed EU-US free trade, which would be worth billions of pounds to the UK economy.

According to a CEPR study, an ambitious Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal would increase the size of the EU economy by around €120bn (or 0.5 per cent of GDP) and the US by €95bn (or 0.4 per cent of GDP).

The ability of consumers to purchase cheaper goods could also see the disposable income of the average European household of four rise by something in the region of €500 per year.