The ‘Pig Module’ accreditation will be applied across the suppliers’ farms in Belgium, Germany, Spain, France and Italy. It introduces higher welfare standards, covering antibiotic usage, medicine, feed, veterinary procedures, biosecurity and pest control, to meet current UK supermarket and retail requirements.
The standard was written by animal welfare specialists at Winterbotham Darby, then presented to its technical working group. Following sign-off there were reviews and farm audits by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS). The UKAS-accredited EFP Pig Module, will be audited by certification body KIWA Agri Food, on behalf of Winterbotham Darby.
Speaking to GlobalMeatNews, Winterbotham Darby’s farm assurance manager Louisa Pawling said changes in legislation and the retailers’ code of practice had prompted the accreditation route.
“We decided we wanted to go down the accreditation route because a lot of retailers ask for an accredited standard, so we are always battling with them to supply non-accredited standard, even though it’s higher welfare,” Pawling said.
“Previously, we have audited our farms across Europe every two to three years, but now this will turn annually for slaughterhouses, breeding farms and every 18 months at finishing farms.”
Pawling added that the accreditation route will also fulfil the business’ goal of stopping mutilations, such as tail-docking, and confinements throughout pigs’ lives.
Tail-docking has recently been flagged up by The European Commission’s audit for evaluating member state activities to prevent tail-biting and tail-docking of pigs, revealing that 98.5% of commercial pigs born in Denmark were tail-docked. The audit prompted a negative reaction from animal rights organisation Eurogroup for Animals, which said that routine tail-docking of animals had been illegal in the EU for 24 years.
Winterbotham Darby technical director David Houghton said the accreditation was a tiered system, which the supplier could use to encourage farmers to continually improve standards.