British farmers have warned that up to 40% of pork from the European Union is being produced on farms that are not meeting minimum legal welfare standards.
New European rules banning sow stalls came into effect on 1 January 2013, and the National Pig Association (NPA) claims that around 40,000 pigs from farms that have failed to comply with the new laws are being processed every hour on the Continent.
Data released by Brussels in December revealed that 80% of European Union countries were not fully compliant with the welfare rules in the weeks leading up to the ban. Only 33% of farms in France were compliant with the ban, while Germany was 48% compliant and Ireland was only 57% compliant. Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain also looked unlikely to meet the deadline.
In a bid to tackle the problem, the European Commission health and consumer department has scheduled a meeting on 28 January of ministers from European Union countries to discuss the problem.
The NPA said the Commission was likely to state that compliance would improve from January because member countries could start taking enforcement action. However, it warned that some European countries don’t have the infrastructure necessary to identify non-compliant farms.
“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 1 January 2013. Well that date is now upon us and it needs to act urgently to have any chance of keeping its integrity intact,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.
The association is encouraging consumers in the UK to ensure they avoid illegally produced meat by choosing British pork with the Red Tractor Logo.