British pig farmers are challenging food manufacturers, retailers and caterers to give a public commitment that they are not selling illegally-produced meat from farms that are flouting new European welfare legislation outlawing the prolonged confinement of sows in gestation stalls.
They have set up a Web site “Wall-of-Fame-and-Shame,” which will list companies that have pledged to source imported pork products only from farms that are operating legally.
All companies selling imported pork and pork products are being urged by Britain's National Pig Association (NPA) to check their sources of supply very carefully.
“They must be absolutely certain the bacon, sausages, ham, pizzas and other processed pork they sell do not come from farms that are flouting European animal welfare law,” NPA says.
Most European Union countries have failed to comply with the European Union's animal welfare directive, which as of January 2013 bans the prolonged confinement of sows in stalls. Individual sow stalls have been outlawed on British pig units for 14 years. NPA says stalls are so narrow, pigs cannot turn around — all they can do is sit, stand and lie down.
As many as 40,000 pigs an hour are being delivered to continental processing plants from illegally-operated pig farms, according to NPA calculations.
“As Britain imports around 60% of its processed pork, it is inevitable that many consumers are unwittingly supporting this unacceptable European trade in illegally-farmed pigs,” says NPA general manager Zoe Davies. “Shoppers must be told which British retailers and food companies they can trust not to take part in this trade.”
Yorkshire pig farmer John Rowbottom, a member of NPA's policy-making Producer Group, says: “If Brussels cannot police its own rules, then British pig farmers will have to do the job for them. British consumers are being sold pork products from continental farms that are operating illegally.
It's a gross breach of animal welfare, it is unfair on consumers and it is unfair on British farmers, because it distorts fair trade.”