This year up to 40%of European Union(EU)pigs will come from farms that are flouting animal welfare rules. To avoid this trade in illegally-farmed pigs, British shoppers should look for the British independent Red Tractor logo, says Britain’s National Pig Association.

According to NPA calculations, around 40,000 pigs an hour will be delivered to continental processing plants from farms that are breaking welfare rules. The pigs will come from continental farms where sows are confined in individual sow stalls, which were outlawed by EUanimal welfare legislation on Jan. 1, 2013.

Prompted by NPA, the European Commission health and consumer department has called EUmember countries to a meeting on Jan.28 to discuss the crisis. And in Britain, farms minister David Heath has scheduled a meeting for Feb.6 to assess the level of civil disobedience taking place on continental pig farms.

Stalls have not been used in the United Kingdom for many years, but figures released by Brussels this month (December, 2012) showed 80%of EUcountries had not yet complied with the ban.

Published data showed France was only 33%compliant with the European stalls ban, Germany only 48%and Ireland only 57%. Other countries unlikely to hit the January 2013 deadline included Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

At its meeting this month, the European Commission is expected to claim the picture is not as bleak as the statistics suggest, because this monthmember countries can start taking enforcement action.

NPA says some European countries will strictly enforce the stalls ban but others simply don’t have the necessary infrastructure to identify law-breaking farms, so Europe is going to have a significant law-breaking problem for some time to come.

“We have been pressuring Brussels for more than a year to take measures to protect European consumers from illegally produced pigmeat. Its stock response has always been that it could do nothing until Jan. 1, 2013. Well, that date is now upon us and it needs to act urgently to have any chance of keeping its integrity intact,” says NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.