UK is one of the biggest importers of Danish pig meat
LEADING animal charity Viva! are calling on the Government to urgently clarify rules on imports of pig meat into the UK after a new report from the University of Copenhagen found that pigs had been beaten with metal wrenches and iron chains*.
Photos: Professor Henrik Elvang Jensen, Copenhagen University.
The report said that – after monitoring began in 2010 – the problem appeared to be widespread, affecting around 6 per cent of all Danish farmers. The report states that between 2010 and 2012, 173 pig farmers were reported to the police for violence against pigs. It also says that between May 2010 and September 2013 there were 7,434 cases of markings at the slaughterhouses on pigs suspected of being hit by humans. Typically, the pigs had been hit 5-14 times but there have been cases where there were 50 markings found on a pig carcase.
In 2013, Britain imported 98,000 tonnes of pig meat from Denmark** and Viva! fears that many of these beaten pigs ended up on sale to British consumers. The charity is seeking urgent clarification from the UK Government and supermarkets as to what steps are taken to prevent the importation of this meat and how violence of this kind is monitored in Britain.
Justin Kerswell, Viva!’s campaigns manager, “Many British consumers will be shocked that they may have bought imported meat from pigs that have been beaten in this way. We know that most pigs are kept in often cramped and unnatural indoor conditions, but this is really adding injury to insult.
“These revelations will send shockwaves through the UK import industry. Viva! intends to ask British supermarkets how they make sure they are not selling this meat to their customers. Although it has been picked up in Denmark, there may be questions to answer here in the UK where the vast majority of pigs are also intensively farmed and possibly routinely abused in this way. Is the British Government collecting data on violent injuries from pig farms in this country? If not why not?
“It is sadly inevitable that this type of cruelty is widespread when animals are treated as little more than units of meat. However, we should not get complacent. Most British pigs are kept inside their whole lives. The majority of British sows are kept in farrowing crates so small they can’t even turnaround for five weeks at a time. Most of their piglets are mutilated shortly after birth without anaesthetic. It is all done to facilitate factory farming. Be it Danish or British, the only way you can be sure you are not part of this cycle of violence is to not eat pig meat at all and go vegan.”***
Read more about Viva!’s campaigns for pigs at www.piggles.org.uk
For help in going vegan visit www.viva.org.uk/30dayvegan
* Story first appeared in the Danish press (Metro Express) on 24 April 2014: http://www.mx.dk/nyheder/danmark/story/28704400
UK imported 98,000 tonnes of pig meat from Denmark in 2013
*** The Government’s own advisory body on farmed animal welfare (FAWC: Farmed Animal Welfare Council) issued a report in March 2011 called OPINION ON MUTILATIONS AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENRICHMENT IN PIGLETS AND GROWING PIGS.
Professor Wathes, Chairman of FAWC, said “Mutilations involve handling stress, acute pain and the possibility of chronic pain.”
The report also says: “Most of the 9 million piglets born in the UK each year experience some form of mutilation.” Also that, despite a supposed ban on routine mutilations it appears to happen mostly as standard: “The industry estimates that at least 80 per cent of UK piglets are tail-docked.”
More information on mutilations and factory farming practices in Britain on request.
Note: please credit photos of injuries to Professor Henrik Elvang Jensen, KU.