October 2, 2008


Survey exposes consumer ignorance on free-range pork

A recent survey has revealed that only 10 percent of respondents are fully aware of the free-range system's workings.


The survey said 88 percent of respondents believe that free-range means pigs could roam large-fenced paddocks, but only 10 percent knew that any system that did not use sow stalls or farrowing crates could be defined as free-range.


Lee McCoskers, president of Free Range Pork Farmers Association in Australia, said, "Bred free-range is not free to range. It is a system where the sow gives birth outdoors, but, when her piglets are weaned, they are moved to large sheds for the rest of their growing stage. There is nothing wrong with the system. It is very disappointing, however, that these producers take advantage of the consumer's limited knowledge of pork production systems."


There is a misconception that the RSPCA certification is for free-range farms - the certification does not differentiate between any of the housing systems for pig production.


A more appropriate description for free-range pork would be "barn-raised", said McCosker.

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