NPA warns on “illegal” pork

Retailers and food manufacturers must be watchful for “illegal” pork imports, the National Pig Association (NPA) has warned, after it revealed only 13 countries were sow stall ban-compliant.

More than seven months since the ban was introduced, the NPA has revealed that half of the countries in Europe “have failed to clamp down on pig farms where sows are illegally confined for most of their lives”.

The NPA argued that British consumers expected all imported pork and pork products to be traceable to compliant farms. However, the NPA said new data from the European Commission showed that just 13 member states were fully compliant. These included Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the UK, where stalls have been banned outright since 1999.

As a result, the Commission started infringement proceedings against nine countries in February. These countries included Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal. Meanwhile, the Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Finland, and Slovenia are still being investigated, the NPA said.

General manager of the NPA Dr Zoe Davies explained: “Sow stalls are narrow cages. They make life easier for pig farmers, but they are medieval in the eyes of British consumers because the sows spend most of their lives being able to do little more than stand up and lie down. The response to our campaign for traceable higher-welfare pork for British consumers has been outstanding — far better than we ever envisaged.”

‘Wall of Fame’

The NPA estimated that, at the start of the year, around 40,000 pigs an hour were being delivered to Continental processing plants from illegally-operated pig farms. “As Britain imports around 60% of its processed pork, it was feared that many British consumers were unwittingly supporting the trade in illegally-farmed pigs,” it said.

Therefore, Davies highlighted the NPA’s ‘Wall of Fame’ campaign, which aims to persuade retailers and food companies to promise not to import pork and pork products from non-compliant farms.

So far, 100 leading companies and brands have pledged total traceability for the imported pork and pork products they sell, including most major retailers and leading foodservice companies such as McDonald’s, Costa and Premier Inn.