A call for an emergency summit meeting to prevent the importation of pig meat from illegal production systems in Europe from 1st January 2013 has been made by Matthew Curtis, managing director of pig-breeding company, ACMC Ltd.
Although, on welfare grounds, the EU has banned the use of stalls for sows throughout most of their pregnancy from the beginning of the New Year most European countries are not yet compliant.
“Figures from the National Pig Association suggest that nearly 5 million sows will be kept under illegal production systems. They will produce roughly 96 million pigs — about 1.8 million a week. This is a staggering amount — equivalent to the entire production from Germany and Spain — the EU’s largest pig producers,” says Curtis.
“Imports of such meat will have serious implications for British pig farmers who follow high welfare practices and who have had to comply with a total ban on sow stalls for over a decade,” he said.
“Due to cheaper production methods this lower-welfare meat could undercut UK-produced meat and the fiasco in the EU surrounding non-compliance with the battery-cage ban in 2012 will pale into insignificance compared with this.”
The summit should involve all UK retailers, wholesalers, slaughter-processors, producers and consumer bodies to ensure that no pigmeat from illegal production systems in the EU enters the UK, says Curtis.
“There should be harsh penalties to ensure that retailers and wholesalers found to be importing this meat take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.”
Any meat in UK shops and supermarkets from such illegal production systems would undermine the credibility of the brand image of the retailer, wholesaler and slaughter-processor and further damage the profitability of the British pig producers, who are already suffering a crisis situation,” he adds.