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Guide to pork labelsBoycott pork from pig factories and support high welfare, UK farmers.
Organic pigs are kept in conditions that, as far as possible, allow them to express their natural behaviour. The use of the European Union Organic logo is mandatory for all pre-packaged organic products that have been produced in any EU Member State. The Soil Association Organic Standard is one of only a few schemes that chooses to “set it’s standards even higher than the EU organic standard”.
Free range pigs are born outside, in fields and they remain outside until they are sent for slaughter. They are provided with food, water and shelter and are free to roam within defined boundaries. Free range pigs have very generous minimum space allowances, which are worked out according to the soil conditions and rotation practices of the farm. Breeding sows are also kept outside, in fields for their productive life. There is no official logo for free range, so look for the words ‘free range‘ on the packaging.
RSPCA Assured is the RSPCA’s labelling and assurance scheme dedicated to improving welfare standards for farm animals. About 30% of pigs reared in the UK are reared under this label. The RSPCA assesses farms to strict welfare standards and if they meet every standard they can use the RSPCA Assured label on their product. The scheme covers both indoor and outdoor rearing systems and ensures that greater space and bedding material are provided. Look for the RSPCA Assured logo.
These pigs are born outside, in fields where they are kept until weaning (normally around 4 weeks) and moved indoors. Breeding sows are kept outside in fields for their productive lives. The pigs are provided with food, water and shelter with generous minimum space allowances. ‘Outdoor reared’ is a similar system, but the piglets usually have access to the outdoors for up to 10 weeks before being moved indoors. There is no official logo for outdoor bred, so look for the words ‘outoor bred‘ on the packaging.
The Red Tractor Assured Food Standards scheme only assures UK consumers that meat products comply with UK minimum legal requirements. It is not a guarantee of good animal welfare and allows intensive production. The Red Tractor logo used in conjunction with a Union Jack only guarantees that the pork is British.
No welfare label
If there is no welfare label, don’t buy it. Pork with no welfare label will have almost certainly have come from a factory farm. These pigs will have been crammed into unhealthy & overcrowded sheds. The lack of space & bedding means that the animals suffer stress and disease, are prone to tail biting and have to be routinely given antibiotics, just to keep them alive.
If you buy pork, look for high animal welfare labels like RSPCA Assured, Outdoor Bred, Free Range & Organic.
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