SCOTLAND’S farming union is appealing to shoppers to look for the Specially Selected Pork label as a sure-fire way of knowing that the meat they buy meets EU regulations on pig welfare.
It has also written to retailers to urge them only to stock pigmeat from EU Member States which are fully compliant with EU rules governing how pigs are housed.
Scottish and UK pig farmers introduced EU rules on sow stalls and tethers over a decade ago but the EU Commission confirmed recently that only five EU Member States were likely to meet the rules by the December 31, 2012, deadline. In addition, the Commission recently admitted that it has no means of tracing the origin of pigmeat. That means that unless consumers buy products from assured schemes, such as Specially Selected Pork, they cannot know that the pork, bacon and sausages they buy come from pigs that were raised in legal systems.
NFU Scotland’s vice-president, John Picken said: “That the EU Commission cannot ensure accurate identification of pigmeat from legal units is hard to understand given all of the measures in place to provide the traceability of meat products. That is why it is crucial that shoppers and retailers buy and source product from systems, including the Specially Selected Pork brand, that meet the rules.
“Of particular concern is the EU Commission’s admission that it cannot trace pigmeat back to the farm of origin because of the considerable movements that occur between farms from piglet to weaner. Given there are such claims of a lack of traceability available from the European Commission, we have asked retailers to clarify whether their own systems give a robust assurance that all their imported products will be coming from legal systems as of January 1, 2013.
“In an ideal world, we would be in a position to suggest that retailers guarantee products are from legal systems by sourcing only from Scottish and UK farmers who have been producing to these higher standards for over a decade. However, due to additional costs being shouldered by our farmers in implementing higher welfare for pigs since 1999, and the increased volume of cheaper imports, the UK pig industry has shrunk to such an extent that we can no longer meet that demand.
“With this in mind, it is more important than ever for retailers to get behind our farmers, if not by stocking Scottish or British pigmeat, then by sourcing it from equivalent EU systems.
“Despite a difficult year, Scotland has a committed band of farmers who continue to take pride in rearing top quality pigs. Running alongside our Specially Selected Pork brand and its loyal consumer following, retailers must take the initiative and stock pigmeat from legal systems and the EU Commission must ensure that Member States enforce stall and tether rules as soon as possible.”