UK: National Pig Association calls for prompt action over ‘illegally-produced’ meat

BRITISH pig producers are urging UK consumers to avoid buying meat which is continuing to be produced in parts of Europe under conditions now illegal under EU law.

A ban on confining sows in metal cages known as stalls - a method of production which has not been used in the UK for many years - officially came into force across the EU on January 1.

However, the National Pig Association, which represents pig producers in Britain, says that farms accounting for around 40% of EU pig production have failed to meet the deadline and are now flouting the new animal welfare rules.

It cites data showing that France was only 33% compliant with the European stalls ban ahead of it coming in to force, Germany only 48% and Ireland only 57%. Other countries unlikely to hit the deadline include Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

To avoid buying meat from illegally-farmed pigs, British shoppers should look for the British independent “Red Tractor” logo, the NPA says.

At its meeting this month, the European Commission is expected to claim the picture is not as bleak as the statistics suggest, because from January member countries are able to start taking enforcement action.

However, the NPA says that while some European countries will strictly enforce the stalls ban others simply don’t have the necessary infrastructure to identify law-breaking farms, and so a significant problem on non-compliance will continue to exist for some time to come.

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“We have been pressuring Brussels for more than a year to take measures to protect European consumers from illegally produced pigmeat,” said NPA chairman Richard Longthorp.

“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.”