Oliver launches campaign to save Britain's bacon

After months of hype, Jamie Oliver's drive to save British pig farming will be screened on television tonight.

The 90-minute documentary 'Jamie Saves our Bacon' follows the pig production process from gate to plate and investigates how UK farmers have been forced to implement costly welfare standards, leaving them vulnerable to competition from cheap imports.

Oliver demonstrates how European welfare standards differ from those in the UK, focusing on sow stalls and castration. Although the chef is frustrated in his attempt to film a sow stall production system first-hand, the documentary features archive film of pigs in sow stall systems and footage of a piglet being castrated.

Oliver is uncompromising in his condemnation of sow stalls, which are still used in Europe but illegal in the UK.

"If you thought battery-chicken cages were bad, then, in my view, I think these little babies are worse," he says.

"It's pretty inhumane. A pig can stand up, it can sit down, but it can't turn around and it can't scratch itself. They basically have to eat in one end and s*** out the other."

Despite assurances from John Howard, marketing director of the Danish Bacon and Meat Council, that sow stalls are on their way out and Denmark is looking to introduce pain relief for castration, Oliver remains staunchly pro-British throughout the programme, saying that people who buy imported pork should feel ashamed.

He names and shames the public sector bodies who buy the most imported meat and criticises all the major supermarkets, including Sainsbury's, for their "misleading" labelling policies.

Famous actress and patron of Compassion in World Farming, Joanna Lumley, makes a guest appearance to show her support of Oliver's campaign, saying: "Pigs are such clever, charming, amusing, interesting and interested animals. I think the way that we keep them is absolutely ghastly."

Urging the public to buy British, Oliver concludes by saying that most people could afford to buy higher-welfare British pork if they chose cheaper cuts such as pork shoulder and pork belly."If we can send sales of these cuts through the roof, than together we might be able to save our bacon," he says.

Research from Waitrose suggests that Oliver's documentary could have a profound impact on consumer pork purchasing habits.

In a survey of 2,200 adults carried out by YouGov on behalf of Waitrose, 70% of consumers questioned said they were unaware of the welfare conditions on intensive pig farms in Europe. Once told about issues such as castration and sow stalls, 57% said they would stop buying imported pork.

Waitrose managing director Mark Price said: "There is still a real lack of awareness about the volume of imported pork and the fact that most of these pigs have been reared in intensive farming conditions.

"Our research proves that when given clear information, British people are willing to make buying decisions based on welfare standards."