Pork provenance website to end "ambiguity"

Bpex is hoping to put an end to what it claims is ambiguous and potentially misleading labelling of pork and pork products with the launch of a new website, www.porkprovenance.co.uk, this June.

The site was developed following the announcement earlier this year of a voluntary Code of Practice for the labelling of pork and pork products.

All organisations that have signed up to the Code of Practice will feature on the new site, providing industry and consumers alike with a reference point to enable them to see those companies that are committed to providing their customers with clear information about the pork products they sell.

Bpex director Mick Sloyan said: “Whereas current legislation allows for products such as bacon, ham and sausages which have been further processed in the UK to be labelled ‘Produced in the UK’, the new Code of Practice for the Labelling of Pork and Pork Products deems this to be ambiguous. Indeed, one of the main aims of the Code is to ensure that the country of origin is clearly displayed on pack or at the point-of-purchase in foodservice outlets."

The code will also ensure clarity where geographical terms such as ‘Wiltshire Cured’ are used. This will now mean that the pork used to produced such products is of UK origin and if not the country of origin will be clearly displayed

The code also brings much needed clarity in defining the minimum requirements for production terms used on retail labels and on menus such as ‘free range’, ‘outdoor bred’ and ‘outdoor reared’.

“As a voluntary initiative, the code will be self-policing, but by openly listing supporters on the website, we are confident that all those companies that sign-up will be fully compliant. Our research shows that many retailers and foodservice companies already have good labelling. However, some changes to packaging and menus may be necessary and so supporters of the Code will have until the end of the year to be fully compliant. We plan to carry out a review of good labelling practice at the end of 2010 and this will be published widely," Sloyan added.

Drawn up by the Pig Meat Supply Chain Task Force, the Code of Practice, which applies to the whole of the pig meat supply chain (retailers, foodservice operators, branded manufacturers, processors and suppliers), contains a set of guidelines to help companies produce clear, consistent and unambiguous labelling on all pork and pork products.

The code has been welcomed by the RSPCA. Dr Julia Wrathall, head of the RSPCA’s farm animal science department, said: "Since the launch of the RSPCA’s ‘Rooting for Pigs’ campaign in 2009, we have been working towards an agreement from all supermarkets to voluntarily label all pork products according to production method.

“We are thrilled that the new Code of Practice for the Labelling of Pork and Pork Products is a step closer to achieving this, as now, when supermarkets use the labels ‘free range’, ‘outdoor reared’ and ‘outdoor bred’, the pigs that produced those products will have been reared to specific and consistent criteria developed by the RSPCA and Bpex.

“We would urge anyone with an interest in finding out where their pork has come from, and what conditions it was raised in, to take a look at this website and hope that it will be an invaluable tool in empowering shoppers to make an as publicising the list of supporting companies, the new website www.porkprovenance.co.uk explains what the Code of Practice means for all sectors of the supply chain, and outlines which products it relates to. Companies can also register to sign up for the Code via the website.