Pig farms throughout Scotland are being visited by Scottish SPCA inspectors as part of a ground-breaking initiative welcomed by the Scottish pig industry.
A new brand of pork from Scottish farms, "Specially Selected Pork Approved by Scottish SPCA", this month makes its debut on supermarket shelves and butchers' counters with Asda, supplied by Vion Halls, leading the way.
The initiative, developed by a partnership of Quality Meat Scotland and the Scottish SPCA, is on course to see hundreds of Scottish pig farms inspected and approved by the animal welfare charity.
Participation is voluntary and it is expected the vast majority of pig farms in Scotland, more than 200, will become involved. Already pig farms producing more than 4,000 pigs per week have been inspected by the Scottish SPCA.
Scottish SPCA Chief Executive, Stuart Earley, said he was delighted with the positive response from the Scottish pig industry, "This is a very exciting project which I am pleased to say is demonstrating the extremely high standards of welfare on Scottish pig farms.
"Key to the integrity of this scheme is the fact the Scottish SPCA receives no income, either directly or through any subsidiary, by charging for the inspections. As a result consumers can have complete confidence in the impartiality and independence of the inspection process."
Welcoming the initiative QMS Chief Executive 'Uel Morton said pig producers rightly take enormous pride in their production standards. "One problem the pig industry faces is that, compared with beef and sheep farms, it is not easy to open the gates of pig units to allow the public access.
"This is due to the strict biosecurity and high stockmanship standards which are required to maintain the health and welfare of pigs and the excellent quality of the pork produced.
"Through this initiative, however, Scottish SPCA inspectors are being given full access to inspect pig farms and we are delighted they can act as the 'eyes and ears' of the wider public and provide complete, independent assurance on welfare standards."
Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead said: "The scheme will deliver real benefits and reassurance to consumers and provide a further welcome boost for our valued pig sector."
• Quality Meat Scotland
• Scottish SPCA