November 8, 2011
Illegally produced pork may enter UK food chain
Concerns on illegally produced pork to enter the UK food chain were raised because most of EU countries are set to miss a deadline in meeting new welfare legislation, according to the British Pig Executive (Bpex).
Legislation imposing a partial ban on the use of sow stalls in the rest of the EU comes into force in January 2013, more than a decade after the system was banned in the UK on welfare grounds.
However, Bpex is warning that few, if any, other EU member states will be fully-compliant with the legislation and said that unless strong measures are taken, illegally produced pork will end up being sold in Britain.
Bpex is now calling on retailers and major food service companies to ensure all imports come from suppliers which produce to high welfare schemes, such as the UK's Red Tractor or its equivalent.
BPEX chairman Stewart Houston said that it is more than likely that many pig enterprises throughout the EU will fail to move to full compliance with these higher welfare standards, which incidentally still fall short of the standards adopted by UK pig farmers.
"So there is every chance that pork produced to lower welfare standards will continue to be imported into the UK illegally.
"This is clearly unacceptable for consumers and will also prolong the competitive disadvantage under which the UK pig industry has operated since 1999."
Bpex said that in the longer term, the changes are likely to result in reduced pork production across Europe.
The EC has already said it does not propose any derogation for any member states.