The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has written to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) seeking clarification of its opinion on the production of smoked skin-on sheep meat – also known as 'smokies'.
Smokies are eaten by some minority ethnic communities in the UK. However, they are banned from being produced legally in the European Union (EU) because hygiene legislation requires all parts of the body of sheep intended for human consumption, except the head and feet, to be skinned.
In May 2010, the FSA wrote to the European Commission seeking a change in EU law to permit production of smokies, after its investigations showed hygienic production of smokies was possible. The Commission asked EFSAfor its scientific opinion on the FSA studies.
The EFSA opinion, published on 15 June 2011, acknowledged that the FSA-funded studies described a hygienic production method for smokies. However, EFSA found they were insufficient to support the conclusion that the smokies produced during the tests were suitable for human consumption.
The commission accepted the EFSA opinion and stated that the FSA’s findings did not provide a basis for amending the legislation. The Commission did, however, indicate it would be happy to discuss the matter further.
The FSA has now written to EFSA seeking clarification of its interpretation of some of the data with a view to informing any future work in this area and the Agency’s consideration with industry of the next steps for this project. The aim is to identify what further data are required to enable a full assessment of the process.
The Agency understands this request for clarification has been passed to the two EFSA scientific Panels for consideration and it has been advised that a response can be expected in October 2012.
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