Food manufacturers and shoppers have been warned about a tide of meat and meat products produced from 40,000 illegally produced pigs an hour entering the European food chain, after the EU outlawed sow stalls yesterday (January 1).
Up to 40% of EU pigs are now supplied by farms that flout the new animal welfare rules by continuing to confine sows in individual metal cages known as stalls, claimed the National Pig Association (NPA).
The NPA said up to 80% of EU countries had not complied with ban, according to statistics published by Brussels last month. France was only 33% compliant with the European stalls ban, Germany only 48% and Ireland only 57%. Other countries unlikely to hit the deadline included Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.
‘Significant law-breaking problem’
While some European countries will strictly enforce the stalls ban, others don’t have the infrastructure to identify law-breaking farms, so Europe is going to have a "significant law-breaking problem" for some time, claimed the NPA.
NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said: “We have been pressuring Brussels for more than a year to take measures to protect European consumers from illegally produced pigmeat.
“Its stock response has always been that it could do nothing until January 1, 2013. Well, that date is now upon us and it needs to act urgently to have any chance of keeping its integrity intact.”
Red Tractor logo
The NPA has urged shoppers to buy only pork and pork products which carry the British independent Red Tractor logo.
Sow stalls have not been used in the UK for many years.
The European Commission is to hold a meeting on January 28 to discuss the ban on sow stalls, at which it is likely to claim compliance was better the official statistics suggest, said the NPA.
Meanwhile, the Red Tractor scheme received a blow last October when Sainsbury decided to scrap the logo to avoid what it described as “consumer confusion”. The retailer had used the logo on its meat, poultry, dairy and fresh products.
Illegally-run continental pig farms produce:
- 6M sausages/h
- 4M bacon rashers/h
- 4M sausage rolls/h
- 640,000 pork pies/h
- 800,000 pork chops/h
- 160,000 rolled shoulder joints/h
- 80,000 leg joints/h