Scots agree welfare deal

Scottish pig producers will soon be able to offer their pork to consumers with a seal of approval from animal welfare leaders, thanks to a historic deal.

The Scottish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has joined forces with Quality Meat Scotland to offer an independent approval for its farm assurance scheme. All Scottish pork under the scheme will be eligible to carry a ‘Approved by the Scottish SPCA’ label.

QMS claimed the scheme was the first of its kind to gain independent approval from an animal welfare charity and said the project would add no extra cost to industry.

Stuart Earley, Scottish SPCA chief executive, said, “This is a tremendously exciting partnership, which will ensure and demonstrate the highest animal welfare standards on Scottish pig farms.”

The scheme will be voluntary and open to all pig farms across Scotland. Each farm will be assessed by the Scottish Food Quality Certification and Scottish SPCA inspectors within 18 months. It will cover production across the board, both indoor and outdoor, QMS said.

Earley added the scheme would then be extended throughout the production process to ensure exceptionally high animal welfare standards are maintained.

“What is absolutely key is the Scottish SPCA will remain entirely impartial and independent within this scheme and will not receive any income, either directly or through any subsidiary,” he said.

“While we rely on donations to continue our vital work, we nevertheless feel it is crucial that the public can have complete confidence in our independence and the ‘Approved by the Scottish SPCA’ label.”

QMS chief executive ‘Uel Morton said: “The Scottish red meat industry has a track record for introducing pioneering measures as far as farm assurance is concerned and, once again, we are leading from the front with this unique agreement with the Scottish SPCA.

“We know from our research that high animal welfare standards are very important to consumers. The new labelling clearly showing our Specially Selected Pork is independently approved by Scotland’s animal welfare charity takes us to a new level as far as consumer assurance in the UK is concerned.”

QMS said it was currently in talks with a major UK retailer over using the Sottish SPCA approved label, and was hoping to roll it out across Scotland.

Morton added: “I am confident Scottish pig producers, who rightly take enormous pride in their production standards, will take advantage of this opportunity to make their pork even more attractive to UK retailers and consumers.”