Food Law News - UK - 2009

FSA News Item, 4 August 2009

MEAT HYGIENE - FSA Progress report on ‘smokies’ (smoked skin-on sheep meat) research

A considerable potential domestic and export market for legal smoked skin on sheep meat, known as smokies, is identified in a report produced for FSA Wales.

The report, by Hybu Cig Cymru/ Meat Promotion Wales, is part of the Agency’s research into a possible safe and hygienic procedure for producing smokies, which, according to European legislation, are currently illegal in the European Union. The report can be seen at the first HCC link at the end of this page.

The European Commission has indicated that EU hygiene legislation could, with strong supporting evidence, be adapted to allow ‘smokies’ to be produced legally. If agreed, this would enable sheep farmers in the UK to have access to a new and lucrative market, especially for lower value sheep such as cull ewes. It would also help to eliminate the driver for the current illegal production and the considerable enforcement activity it generates. If this change was agreed, the law would apply across the EU.

Other results of the hygiene, meat inspection and veterinary medicines research undertaken on behalf of the FSA have so far produced evidence that supports the view that a safe and hygienic procedure is possible. The National Sheep Association and the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers are developing plans for an abattoir to attempt to carry out trials of the procedure suggested by the Agency. This should enable more valuable data to be collected to strengthen the Agency’s evidence for submission to the European Commission. Further information will be available shortly.

The Commission is expected to ask the European Food Safety Authority to give an opinion on any submission before other member states are requested to give their support for the legal production of smokies in the EU.

However, the process of legalising the production of sheep meat with skin on is likely to take a number of years and the Agency will continue to provide updates to stakeholders on this work as it progresses. A progress report on Skin-on Sheep Meat was provided to the FSA Board in October 2008.

The HCC Report can be seen at the following link:

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