Two major animal groups have joined forces for a mass day of action across the UK on Valentine's Day in an effort to expose the truth about the British pig industry " and to encourage consumers to help end animal suffering by going meat-free.
Viva! and Animal Aid are responding directly to claims made by TV chef Jamie Oliver in a recent Channel 4 programme that farmed pigs in the UK enjoy high welfare standards.
During dozens of undercover visits to intensive British pig farms, both organisations have consistently found high levels of death, disease, suffering and neglect.
Hundreds of supporters will be taking part in the February 14 Day of Action for Pigs, handing out leaflets to the public in high streets across the country. Many will be wearing badges saying "Have a heart for British pigs' and holding posters asking people to "Go veggie'.
Animal Aid head of campaigns, Kate Fowler says: "The notion that pigs in British farms enjoy a high standard of welfare is hogwash. In recent months we have been filming undercover at some of the leading farms in Britain and found animals languishing in abysmal conditions. Despite our evidence, Jamie Oliver continues to promote the domestic industry, which makes a nonsense of his claims to care about animals. If he did, he would not promote pigmeat from any source and would, instead, choose meat-free.'
Viva! campaigns manager Justin Kerswell, says: "Jamie Oliver is trying to tell everyone who will listen that we treat our pigs 'decently', but to say that British pigs live the life of Riley is about as misleading as it gets. Viva! have been investigating British pig farms for the last 15 years, and everywhere we point our camera we find filth, neglect and despair. The answer to saving pigs is not to buy British " the answer to saving pigs (and all farmed animals) is to go veggie!'
British pig farms still use farrowing crates: 70 per cent of British sows are confined to small metal cages in which they are imprisoned for up to five weeks at a time*, unable to turn around or build a nest for their piglets. British welfare standards also fall short of improvements made in Switzerland, for example, where farrowing crates were banned in 1997** and Sweden where the farrowing crate is used for a shorter time than in Britain.
Photo calls taking place in Bath on February 13 and February 14 in Bristol.
For more information on this media release, contact:
Viva!: Press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com - or call 0117 944 1000,
Animal Aid: Kate Fowler: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01732 364546. See Animal Aid's shocking new report and undercover footage at www.animalaid.org.uk.
For reaction to Channel 4's Jamie Saves our Bacon (aired on January 29), see Animal Aid's media release and Viva!'s media release or visit www.piggles.org.uk.
*Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture: June 1 2006. England. Defra
** Piglet mortality on farms using farrowing systems with or without crates: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/ufaw/aw/2007/00000016/00000002/art.... The crate is supposedly used to prevent sows from accidentally crushing their piglets " but since loose farrowing systems have been introduced in Switzerland it has been recorded that no more mortalities occur in loose farrowing pens. Pigs on Swedish farms may be held in a farrowing crate for a maximum of one week. In Britain, it is up to five weeks.