RSPCA: Think Pig Promotes Pork Labelling

UK - A survey has found more than six out of 10 shoppers want to choose higher welfare pig products but find the labelling unclear.
calendar icon 30 July 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

The survey, run by YouGov* on our behalf, found that 64 per cent of shoppers who bought ham, sausages, bacon or pork in the last six months want to choose higher welfare products like Freedom Food or free range, but may not be able to because of a lack of clear labelling.

And when shown packaging of various pork products, between 35 and 45 per cent of these shoppers answered that they didn't know how the pig had been treated.

The majority of the 160 million pigs raised for meat annually in Europe are kept in conditions that do not meet some of their most basic needs, which we find unacceptable. Many are kept in overcrowded barren environments with no bedding or material for rooting and only wooden slatted floors to lie down on.

New Labelling Code for Pork Products

The Think Pig checklist asks people to only buy higher welfare pork products that display the Freedom Food logo, which means they have come from farms inspected to RSPCA welfare standards, or those labelled outdoor bred, outdoor reared, free range or organic.

These labels conform to the new voluntary labelling Code of Practice for pork and pork products developed by the RSPCA and BPEX, to which the majority of supermarkets have signed up.

According to Leigh Grant, Freedom Food’s chief executive, the upsurge in consumer demand and spending on Freedom Food pork products is having a very direct impact on improving pig welfare.

He said, "We have seen the number of pigs reared to RSPCA welfare standards dramatically increase by 26 per cent - from less than 1.6 million animals two years ago, to more than 1.9 million today - as a direct result of consumer demand. That’s 400,000 more pigs having a better life under Freedom Food."

Supporting Higher Welfare

All the major supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer, The Co-op and Waitrose) have signed up to the voluntary labelling scheme for pork products.

RSPCA urges all to make the the ethical choice. Support higher welfare farming in the same way as with eggs and chicken. The number of eggs sold from caged birds has dropped by 11 per cent since 2004 because of the choices made when out shopping.

RSPCA scientific officer for farm animals, Kate Parkes, said, "Consumers have the power to really improve pigs’ lives. The more people choose higher welfare labelled pork, the more pigs will be reared to better welfare standards."

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