21 January 2009
Lynne Jones MP joins RSPCA in Rooting for Pigs!
Lynne Jones MP has joined with the RSPCA to call for an improvement in the animal welfare standards for pigs and a defined labelling system for pork products in the UK.
Research published by the RSPCA this week has shown that a staggering 2 per cent of the population understand the terms used on pork products, such as 'free-range, 'outdoor bred' or 'outdoor reared', meaning almost all shoppers are confused about the conditions in which pigs are actually reared.
Lynne Jones MP urged retailers to answer the RSPCA’s call to join with it and the British pig industry to develop and adopt pig meat labelling definitions:
“Unlike the situation with egg and chicken production there are currently no legal definitions for terms such as ‘free range’, ‘outdoor bred’ and ‘outdoor reared’ for pig meat making it very difficult for consumers to make an informed choice about the pork products they want to buy.”
According to the RSPCA, pigs are highly intelligent and inquisitive animals that often outdo dogs in learning tests. They are often rated as the fourth most intelligent animal, behind primates, dolphins and elephants and the RSPCA is concerned that many pigs reared for meat in this country are raised in conditions that the public would think horrifying if applied to any of these other species.
“The Rooting for Pigs campaign is encouraging people to buy the highest welfare pork that they can afford. UK legislation and industry practice on pig welfare go beyond EU law in some key areas, and many British pigs have a good quality of life compared with others on the Continent. So from a welfare point of view, consumers should make sure that at the very least, the pork product they buy is British. However, if consumers want to be sure that they are buying higher welfare pork they should look out for pig meat labelled with the Freedom Food logo.” Lynne Jones MP added.
Freedom Food is the RSPCA’s farm animal welfare assurance scheme which aims to ensure that animals are reared, handled, transported and slaughtered according to welfare standards developed and monitored by the RSPCA.
The new survey also shows that:
- 83% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “animal welfare is an important consideration when buying pork” demonstrating that even in these times of belt tightening, the public sees welfare as an important consideration when out shopping.
- While 60% of respondents said they always brought higher welfare pork (RSPCA Freedom Food, free range or organic), 23% said they did not because they didn’t know much about how pigs are reared. A further 19% said the labelling of pork products was too confusing/ absent to allow them to make an informed choice.
- Almost half (47%) said they always buy British pork, a further 28% said they would like to only buy British but it wasn’t always available and 15% said they would like to buy British but the labelling isn’t always clear.
- Meanwhile, 60% said they like to support the British farming industry, with 15% stating they believed British pork to be higher welfare and 13% stating they thought British pork tasted better.
More information on the RSPCA campaign is available at www.rspca.org.uk/pigs
The EFRA Select Committee, of which Lynne Jones MP is a member, also recently released a report on the 'English Pig Industry' which can be read here.
Notes to editors:
- The survey was carried out by TNS. Total sample size was 1012 adults. Interviewing was carried out between 19-21 December 2008. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 16+).
- For further information or spokespeople from the RSPCA please contact the RSPCA press office on 0300 123 0244.