Seven months after the European Union introduced a ban on keeping sows in stalls*, half of its countries have failed to clamp down on farms where pigs are illegally confined for most of their lives.
And that means retailers and food manufacturers must continue to be vigilant, the National Pig Association warned this week.
It argues that British consumers expect all imported pork and pork products to be traceable back to farms that comply with the January 2013 ban.
New data shows only 13 member countries are fully compliant — Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Malta, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Sow stalls were banned outright in the United Kingdom in 1999.
The European Commission began infringement proceedings against nine countries in February — Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal. The Netherlands, Italy, Hungary, Finland, and Slovenia are still being investigated.
The NPA has introduced a ‘Wall of Fame’ campaign, to highlight retailers which have pledged not to import from non-compliant Continental farms. It is currently carrying out a number of spot checks to ensure companies are sticking to their word.
One hundred 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.
NPA general manager Dr Zoe Davies said: “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."
* Except for the first four weeks of pregnancy.