Netherlands: no castrated pork for Aldi and Lidl

20-10-2008 | |
Netherlands: no castrated pork for Aldi and Lidl

Both discounters Aldi and Lidl have decided to sell only pork from non-castrated pigs in the Netherlands as from early next year.

The decision was made public just before the weekend after an agreement was reached with Dutch animal welfare organisation ‘Varkens in Nood’ (Pigs in Need). According to the organisation, the chance of consumers buying pork with boar taint is too small to justify castration – once in thirty years, it claims.

The announcement is a next step in an ongoing debate in the Netherlands on pork sales in supermarkets. Earlier this year, all Dutch supermarkets agreed on refraining from selling pork from pigs that were castrated without the use of anaesthetics, as from March 1, 2009.

At the moment, many Dutch pig breeders are being taught how to apply these anaesthetics. Originally, a big switch to ‘no castration’ was planned for 2015, the date by which alternatives for the practice need to have been found.

The animal welfare organisation now targets two more supermarket chains to follow the example set by the originally German discounters. Two smaller ones had already done so, as well as restaurant chain La Place.

So far, it is unclear how the new decision will be implemented. German meat packer Tönnies, one of the Aldi pork suppliers, confirmed to Dutch agricultural newspaper Agrarisch Dagblad that it had agreed with Aldi only to send fresh pork from female animals to Dutch supermarkets.

This would mean that the German meatpackers will have to start separating boars and gilts at the slaughterline – and will have a surplus of boar meat, which is usually of slightly less quality.

Varkens in Nood chairman Hans Baaij, however, said he received promises from both discounters that they would start selling both boar and gilt meat.

Unlike the UK, Ireland and most parts of Spain and Portugal, castration is a common practice in large parts of Europe and the USA to prevent pork from developing boar taint. In the Netherlands, approximately 3.3 million pigs are castrated annually.

Read more about the castration debate in several European countries in the latest issue of Pig Progress.

Related websites
Varkens in Nood (in Dutch)
La Place
Agrarisch Dagblad (in Dutch)

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