Only a handful of member states look set to comply with new pig animal welfare regulations, which will come into force across the European Union on Jan. 1, 2013. These shocking new figures were revealed in an article Thursday by Alistair Driver of Farmers Guardian (UK).

Member states have had since 2001 to comply with the partial ban on sow stalls. But the latest figures on member states’ readiness for the ban reveal just five member states are already fully compliant, including the United Kingdom (UK), which banned sow stalls in 1999. Six countries reported compliance in excess of 90% per cent.

But many of the rest, including most of the UK’s biggest competitors, remain woefully short, including France at 33%, Germany at 48% and the Netherlands at 63%t. Even Denmark, the biggest exporter of pigmeat to the UK had only managed 85% compliance.

Even allowing for a “last-minute rush” to remove sows from stalls and house them in new group pens, the National Pig Association (NPA) estimates that nearly two million pigs a week from farms operating illegally will be delivered to Europe’s processing plants. That equates to around 40,000 “illegal” pigs an hour entering the European food chain in January.

Stewart Houston, chairman of the British Pig Executive, said he was “flabbergasted” when the figures were circulated at a European Commission meeting earlier this month.

“We were amazed because we had been working with the commission all year on this and the messages we were getting was that compliance was much higher,” he said.

Unlike with the 2012 battery cage ban, there were no measures in place to stop the trade in illegally produced pigmeat.

“We have been saying for a long time Europe would be awash with product from illegal farms. It now looks like it’s going to be twice as bad as we thought. It is going to be a nightmare for UK and EU retailers and foodservice companies to be certain they aren’t selling product from illegal farms,” he said.

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