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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 16:56 GMT
Farmers' call to legalise 'smokies'
Illegal 'smokies'
There is a huge trade in illegal 'smokies'
Farmers in mid Wales are set to lobby politicians to push for the legalisation of 'smokies'.

Criminal gangs make huge profits from the illegal meat trade including the production of smokies - a delicacy made from carcasses which are primitively blow-torched.

But farmers in Ceredigion want the ban to be lifted to enable them to boost their income by providing home-grown sheep for the lucrative smokies market.

On Tuesday night, more than 120 farmers attended a meeting in Lampeter set up to provide them with information about providing meat for ethnic communities in the UK.

Mohammad Asghar, who is the chairman of Plaid Cymru's Newport East branch told farmers that legalisation of smokies would provide much needed financial benefits for them.

"Welsh farmers are losing out because there is a huge market for smokies, Halal and Kosher meat and they are not seeing any of the profit," he said.

"It has not been proven medically that smokies are harmful to people and we want the government to reconsider its position."

Directive

There have already been convictions following the illegal slaughter and sale of animals in mid Wales.

In June 2003, Carmello Gale, from Llandysul, was jailed for four months after being found guilty of illegally transporting meat for the smokies market.

Tuesday night's meeting was organised by Lampeter discussion group's chairman Huw Reed.

Farmer with sheep
Sheep could be used to make the 'smokies'
"Until Tuesday night we knew very little about the way animals are produced for ethnic communities," said Mr Reed.

"I believe it is the human right of people to eat meat the way they want to eat it.

"We will now approach assembly members and European members of parliament to allow Welsh farmers to provide produce for the ethnic market."

Production of smokies is illegal because they do not comply with a European Union fresh meat directive.

But the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has now commissioned research to determine whether smokies can be produced safely.

The agency will then determine if smokies can be legally produced in licensed premises.

"The current veterinary advice is that goat meat or sheep meat sold with skin is likely to have a higher bacterial load than meat produced and sold in a conventional way with skin removed at a slaughterhouse," said an FSA spokesman.

A National Farmers' Union spokeswoman welcomed the research.

"But unless the FSA sign it off as legal then Welsh farmers will still be at a dead end," she added.


SEE ALSO:
Call for action on meat regulation
10 Sep 03  |  Derbyshire
Fit to police the food industry?
29 Aug 03  |  Business
Jail for illegal meat trade man
20 Jun 03  |  South West Wales
Illegal meat trade's 'drugs profits'
29 Aug 03  |  Nottinghamshire



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