Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

Jamie slammed for telling 'porkies' over pig welfare standards

Release date: 
Friday, January 30, 2009

CHEF Jamie Oliver has angered animal campaigners over claims that British pigs are treated decently****** compared to those raised in Europe. Oliver called on the public to buy British pig meat in his latest film on pork production, Jamie Saves Our Bacon, which aired on Thursday evening (January 29) on Channel 4. Animal group Viva! are accusing him of putting jingoism over common sense and protecting pig farmers over pigs by glossing over the true horror of pig farming in the UK. Viva! are also accusing Oliver of being disrespectful, using pigs as live props on the programme. Pork was cooked within sight and smell of the animals, which was potentially distressing. The chef also encouraged the audience to laugh whilst a male boar was forcibly masturbated on camera. The programme showed the slaughter of a pig. "Pigs will get a more efficient death than most of us humans,' said Oliver. Whilst Viva! welcomes the idea of people seeing the bloody reality of where their food comes from, the carefully managed killing process was very different from the mechanised conveyor belts of slaughter most pigs endure in British abattoirs according to the group. Many pigs will be incorrectly stunned and fully conscious when they have their throats cut, claims Viva!. Although welfare standards in the UK are sometimes higher than in Europe " where sow stalls remain in use in some, but not all, countries***** " many British pig farms are filthy, overcrowded and rife with dead and dying neglected animals, claim the group. Viva! spokesperson Justin Kerswell says: "While Jamie should he congratulated for raising awareness of the suffering of factory farmed animals, he is seriously misguided if he thinks that British pigs live the life of Riley. It is simply not a case of Britain good vs. Europe bad. Viva! investigations into farms across Britain have exposed immeasurable suffering, with animals living in what can only be described as pig slums. If Jamie Oliver cared one jot about British pigs he'd be telling people not to eat them " not propping up a failing industry that doesn't deserve saving. "Oliver berated the sow stall, saying that sows can only defecate where they stand, can't turn around and their nesting instincts are frustrated " neglecting to mention that the farrowing crate, which is used for most sows in Britain, has exactly the same problems. He also failed to mention that farrowing crate is banned in some countries abroad, including Switzerland. The crate is about protecting profits, not piglets. "Viva! provided Jamie Oliver's programme with footage taken on one of Britain's industrial pig farms, but they chose not to use it. The sad irony is that his previous programme on chickens was concerned with raising animal welfare " with this show it was all about the welfare of farmers. Moving pig farming abroad isn't the answer, obviously. However, Jamie Oliver failed to mention the best way to support the British pig is to simply not eat him " and the best way to end animal suffering is to not eat any animal and go vegetarian.' 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 her 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. The latest figures published by the British Pig Executive (BPEX) show that 13 per cent of all piglets born indoors in such systems die (70 per cent of British piglets are born indoors), alongside 12.3 per cent of those raised outdoors. Less than 4 per cent of British pigs spend their entire lives outdoors***. Pig Facts ' Pigs killed for their meat live only five or six months but it takes a battery of drugs to keep many of them alive. ' Defra figures show that over 90 per cent of British piglets are raised in intensive indoor units** where they will never go outside and are killed at just six months. ' Despite routine painful mutilations such as tail docking and teeth clipping of piglets being prohibited, research has shown that these could be commonplace on many British farms***. ' Piglet mortality on British farms using farrowing crates runs high at 13 per cent, but can be lower abroad ****. ' In the wild, a sow would produce one litter of three or four piglets a year and form a small social group with other sows. She would wean her piglets at around 12 weeks of age. In Britain today the sows gives birth to up to 26 piglets each year and they are weaned at just 27 days according to BPEX****. In November 2008, footage shot by Viva! on a pig farm in Dorset shows dead and rotting piglets inside units; sows imprisoned in metal crates little bigger than their bodies; pigs kept in barren concrete pens with no bedding; piglets huddled together, shivering and dying piglets left to suffer. Viva! has investigated dozens of pig farms in the last 15 years and found similar conditions on nearly all of them. Photos and footage from the investigation can be viewed here: http://www.viva.org.uk/pigs/dorchester08/ For more information about Viva!'s campaign against pig farming, visit www.piggles.org.uk. Visit www.viva.org.uk for help and advice on going veggie. ENDS Notes to Editors In 2006 Viva! patron Heather Mills joined the group on an investigation of a pig farrowing unit in Somerset. http://www.viva.org.uk/mediareleases/display.php'articlepid=87. * 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. ** Survey of Agriculture and Horticulture: June 1 2006. England. Defra *** The Welfare of Pigs: RSPCA, January 2009 states that Approximately 80 per cent of piglets have their tails docked shortly after birth. http://www.rspca.org.uk/servlet/Satellite'blobcol=urlblob&blobheader=app... **** Viva! farrowing crate fact sheet and Pig Yearbook 2008. BPEX and MLC. Also, the government's Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report of December 2008 into the British Pig Industry noted that Great Britain performed poorly when it came to mortality against European comparisons: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200809/cmselect/cmenvfru/96/9.... ***** Sow stalls are banned in the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland, as well as Britain. In 2013 they will be illegal across the whole of the EU, apart from the first four weeks of pregnancy. ****** "The welfare standards on British farms are so much higher. Our pigs get treated decently. It's something to be proud of.' Jamie Oliver in the Telegraph, 24 January 2009 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4332297/Jamie-Oliver-I-know-were-... A fully referenced fact sheet on the farrowing crate production can be read at www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/pigs/farrowing/farrowingfactsheet.htm. Footage of Viva!'s undercover investigation into British pig farming and further information can be viewed at www.piggles.org.uk . For more information about this media release, contact Viva! press officer Helen Rossiter or Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or by emailing press@viva.org.uk or justin@viva.org.uk.