Illegal pork flowing into UK

AROUND 40,000 “ILLEGAL” pigs an hour will be entering the European food chain in January and bacon, ham and pizzas containing their meat is destined for Britain’s supermarkets, corner shops and restaurants, according to the National Pig Association (NPA).


The pigs will come from continental farms where sows are still confined in individual steel cages known as ‘stalls‘ — a practice outlawed by European Union animal welfare legislation from January 1st 2013.


Stalls have not been used in the UK for many years, but figures released by Brussels this month show that with the continental ban only days away, 80% of EU countries have not yet complied with the ban.


The data showed that France is only 33% compliant with the European stalls ban, Germany only 48% and Ireland only 57%. Other countries unable to hit the January 2013 deadline include Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.


Even allowing for a last minute rush to remove sows from stalls and house them in new group pens, the indications are that nearly two million pigs a week from farms operating illegally will be delivered to Europe’s processing plants, the NPA claimed.


“It makes a mockery of Europe’s animal welfare legislation,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp. “As the United Kingdom imports around 60% of its pork — much of it as processed food such as ham and bacon — shoppers will need to be very careful about what they choose from supermarket shelves and when eating out in restaurants.”


The NPA is urging British shoppers who care about animal welfare not to buy imported pork or processed pork products such as bacon, until all EU member countries have complied with the stalls ban.


Britain’s four major food organisations have pledged to the Government in June that they will not sell pork and pork products from illegal pig farms when the European partial stalls ban is introduced in the New Year.


However, the NPA is still concerned that in many cases the “illegal farms will be difficult to identify [and] imported processed foods will be almost impossible to trace”.