Canada's 46-year wait for haggis is over after recipe change

Scotland is to begin exporting haggis to Canada for the first time in almost half a century, after one of the country's largest producers changed its recipe to meet food safety rules.
Haggis has been banned from Canada for nearly 50 years. Picture: Alan MurrHaggis has been banned from Canada for nearly 50 years. Picture: Alan Murr
Haggis has been banned from Canada for nearly 50 years. Picture: Alan Murr

The first commercial shipment of haggis for 46 years is expected to arrive in Canada next week after Macsween of Edinburgh developed a new version of the national dish.

The company, which has been selling haggis since 1953, said the recipe used lamb hearts instead of the traditional lamb lungs, which are deemed unfit for consumption in Canada.

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To satisfy regulators, it has also had to use a new meat supplier selected from a list approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Macsween commercial director David Rae said: “It’s as close as we can get to the original recipe using different meats, because the oats and spice mix are the same.

“The expats and native Canadians will be tasting the real deal, the genuine article.”

The company’s managing director James Macsween, who worked personally on refining the Canadian haggis recipe, said he was “absolutely delighted” at the breakthrough.

He said: “This is a huge milestone for Macsween to be expanding internationally and leading the way in an increasingly competitive market.

“My grandfather, Charlie, would be very proud to see how far we’ve come from his original butcher’s shop in Bruntsfield, which he opened back in 1953.”

Mr Rae said the opening of a new export market was a “very big deal” for the company, which is often inundated with complaints from people who cannot buy haggis abroad.

“Every January, when we get the Burns Night period coming around, we get a lot of emails, Facebook messages and phone calls from people in other countries,” he said.

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It is hoped that the new recipe will open the way to haggis being sold in the United States, which has had a similarly long-standing ban on using sheep’s lungs in food.

“There is a worldwide appetite for haggis,” Mr Rae said, adding that Macsween was currently in negotiations with distributors in Singapore, Germany and France.

Scottish food and drink exports to Canada are worth more than £94 million a year, with demand increasing by an estimated 37 per cent in the last year alone.

Seafood supplier Associated Seafood is launching two smoked salmon products with Canada’s largest retailer, Loblaw, later this month. Stockans Oatcakes from Orkney can also be found in major Canadian food stores, while the country is also the largest export market for Edinburgh-based beer brewer Innis & Gunn.

Economy secretary Keith Brown, who is currently in Toronto promoting Scottish food and drink, said: “It’s great news that Macsween have been able to develop a haggis recipe for export to Canada.”