AN estimated 40% of European pig meat coming on to the market is believed to be flouting animal welfare rules which came into force on January 1.
The National Pig Association (NPA) calculates that around 40,000 pigs an hour will be delivered to continental processing plants from farms that are continuing to keep sows in stalls or individual metal cages, which are now illegal across the EU.
Stalls were already banned in the UK a number of years ago but figures from Brussels show that around 80% of EU countries have not complied. The data shows that just a third of French pig keepers were compliant, fewer than half were in Germany (48%), while 57% were in Ireland.
The NPA said that although some countries will strictly enforce the ban, others do not have the infrastructure to identify law-breaking farms, so Europe is likely to face a significant problem for some time to come.
NPA chairman Richard Longthorp said: “We have been pressuring Brussels for more than a year to take measures to protect European consumers from illegally produced pigmeat.
“Its stock response has always been that it could do nothing until January 1, 2013.
“Well that date is now upon us and it needs to act urgently to have any chance of keeping its integrity intact.”
British shoppers are being urged to only buy pig meat bearing the British independent Red Tractor logo, so they can be assured the meat comes from legally-farmed pigs.