NFU Scotland leaders yesterday accused several of the major UK retailers of selling pig meat from countries which are not compliant with European Union regulations on production and challenged them to prove their suppliers were operating legally.
Following visits by NFU members, Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons were all found to have pork, bacon or ham from member states which are still producing pig meat with the use of banned sow stalls.
Commenting on the findings, NFU pig committee chairman Phil Sleigh said “As of 31 December, 2012, all pig farmers in Europe are required to comply with new welfare rules that restrict the use of sow stalls on farms.”
Despite a ten-year lead-in to the new requirements, only four member states other than the UK are known to have met the deadline, with 13 European countries believed to be some considerable way from complying with the new sow stall rules.
The National Pig Association, representing the UK industry, reckoned that up to 40,000 pigs per hour were still being delivered to abattoirs from non-compliant sources.
Sleigh said: “Those are standards that we have been meeting in Scotland and the rest of the UK for more than 13 years.
“However, we are aware that there is a significant level of non-compliance in many other member states, and pigs are still continuing to be produced in systems now outlawed across Europe.”
Although the retailers said the pig meat came from compliant sources, Sleigh said: “This is an opportunity for retailers to back up that reassurance with firm evidence by tracking imported products bought in individual stores all the way back to the farm of origin.
“If that were the case, it would send out a very positive message.”
He added that those selling imported pig meat should be able to carry out their investigations within a week.