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UK consumers misled by free range pork labelling


The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic

Jamie Oliver is running a campaign to highlight the plight of pigs and how the UK's food labelling system is leaving customers confused.

The UK Soil Association says the current voluntary UK labelling schemes are misleading and says there is no legal definition of 'free-range' when it comes to pork.

Free range label misleading UK consumers
Pork labelled ‘outdoor bred/reared’, ‘free range’ or ‘Freedom Food’ can come from pigs that have spent less than 20% of their lives in the fresh air.

The association says only organic standards ensure that pigs have a truly ‘free range’ life, one which is as near as possible to their wild boar ancestors, and which enables them to exhibit their naturally social behaviour.

Organic pigs outside 80% of lives
Organic pigs are protected from cruel practices like having their tails cut off. Soil Association organic standards also require pigs to have direct access to vegetation and the soil, and organic pigs must live outdoors for at least 80% of their lives. Farrowing crates are banned.

Joyce d'Silva of Compassion in World Farming says Organic farming has the potential to offer the highest standards of animal welfare.

"Organic systems place a high emphasis on good management. This is to ensure the factors that reduce pig immunity and increase the risks of disease are prevented."

She said Compassion in World Farming believes the UK Soil Association's welfare standards are leaders in the field.

Highly intelligent animals
"Pigs are highly intelligent and curious animals," said the association in a press statement coinciding with Jamie Oliver's campaign.

"Penned in and without stimulation, boredom can lead to aggression, ear and tail biting - so over 80% of non-organic pigs have their tails cut off."

Mother pigs unable to build nests
Female pigs reared indoors on non-organic farms can still be confined to small crates before giving birth for up to five weeks - causing stress and preventing them from building a nest and looking after their piglets after they are born.

In non-organic systems an estimated 60% of breeding sows and 93% of pigs reared for meat spend most or all of their life indoors - the majority on solid or slatted concrete or perforated metal.

"If you want to be sure that pigs really do lead a happy life then buy organic," said Emma Hockridge, Soil Association policy campaigner.

The following advertisements are not placed by Organic Pathways and are not necessarily organic