VEGA News Item

Food Standards Agency Acts on Smokies - 25/02/2010

Persuasions to EU to Accept such Meat to Avert Illicit Profitability

1. An agreement was made at a meeting on 26/01/10 of the Food Standards Agency’s Board to push for a change in European law on smokies, which are at present illegal to produce in the UK (Smokies are skin-on sheep meat, singed to kill off contaminating organisms from and in the wool and feet).

2. Gwyn Howells, chief executive of Hybu Cig Cymru (Meat Promotion Wales), said: “This is a step in the right direction towards what could be a huge boost for farmers, processors, and retailers in Wales.  This would be a new product for Welsh producers, alongside the premium quality products that consumers around the world already enjoy.  Hopefully, Ministers will now urge the EU to change the legislation as soon as possible.”  HCC reckons that there is a thriving business for smokies among ethnic communities in the UK and it has been estimated that if the production of smokies were to be legalized it could mean an extra £3 million to the Welsh red meat industry every year.

3. Alistair Mackintosh, chairman of the NFU’s livestock board, supported the NFU’s action: “any law change had the potential to grow markets in the UK and EU for skin-on sheep meat.”  He continued: “The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has taken a very pragmatic and science-based approach to this issue and is looking for solutions to ensure the product can be produced in a way that protects human and animal health.  Obviously, this only represents the first step towards changing the EU rules and we are fully aware of the time-scales involved in changing EU legislation.  The industry will work with the FSA and any authorized processors who wish to diversify into production of these products as and when the rules change.”

4. Suspicions that much of the trade in smokies will go into the halal and kosher markets will upset consumers with undue reliance on assurances, on grounds of animal welfare and the environment, in the workings of the sheep industry.  Charles, Prince of Wales, is a supporter of the sheep industry and he aims at being Defender of all the Faiths.  Repeated enquiries about meat sold from firms with the royal imprimatur fail to elicit any assurance of exclusion of products sold after killing according to religious sticking-and bleed-out processes, without prior attempts at stunning.  Much meat sold as halal has not gone through licit channels.

5. Control of the Meat Hygiene Service will land more firmly on the FSA’s shoulders soon.  The FSA is also entangled with the meat industry in cost-sharing arrangements are being mooted to spread the load of indemnification and compensation after outbreaks of disease.  The FSA is resisting efforts at devolving standards of hygiene and animal welfare and the appropriate monitoring and policing on the industry alone, but many critics refer to events in the recent past that undermine confidence in such functions.

6. Cutting costs in the recession and relegating matters such as animal welfare and the environment to lessened importance and monitoring imbue changes a Tory government would attempt.  As we emphasize repeatedly, citizens who hold dear matters such as these – in parallel with countryside considerations and “sports” – must ensure that voters demand open declarations of intent, not the propaganda from PR companies feeding ill-informed candidates with dubious information and focussed donations from the Bankers of Belize and ex-members of the Bullingdon Club, none of whom have exhibited an urgent concern for the common weal in these matters.  It will take urgent assertion of will and continence to restore due respect and observance of principle to reverse the corrosion of decadence.






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