An advertisement by the British Pork Executive (BPEX) has been banned by the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) as an investigation found the ad’s claim of ‘very high welfare’ to be misleading.
The watchdog received a complaint made by Compassion in World Farming, which expressed concern that the ‘Pigs are worth it’ adverts were unacceptable. Objections to the campaign were raised as animal rights activists said it implied all UK pigs were well cared for.
The ads by the British Pig Executive was featured in national press, bill board posters and magazines. They stated that “British pig farms have very high welfare standards assured by the Quality Standard Mark (QSM). And well cared-for animals mean better quality meat…Help the pig farmers. Sign our petition for fairer prices at pigsareworthit.com and always look for the Pork Quality Standard Mark.”
The ASA ruling states that “some indicators of UK pig welfare, such as the percentage of piglets tail-docked, the percentage of finishing pigs that had access to straw bedding, and the use of farrowing crates for sows might be seen by some as indicating that the general level of pig welfare in the UK in certain areas should not be described as very high.”
BPEX maintained the text referred to the standards set out by the Quality Standard Mark rather than the conditions actually found in British farms.
The executive added that that the QSM standards were ‘significantly in advance of those required by and generally practised in the rest of the European Union’.
In response to the vegetarian group’s complaint that the claim of higher costs for British farmers exaggerated pig welfare standards, the executive provided evidence that it claimed showed that the cost of production in the UK was 12% higher than the EU average in 2006.
Recently, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has encouraged people to buy British pork on the grounds that UK welfare laws are more strict. Practices which have been outlawed here, such as the use of sow stalls, are still commonly used across the continent. He claims the British pig industry is ‘on its knees’ because so much pork is imported from EU countries.