Pig producers have written a strongly-worded letter to the Telegraph in response to an article that made a 'number of misleading claims' about UK pork production.
The article entitled ‘A Pig’s Life – Conventional versus organic’, which appeared in the paper on Monday (13 July) next to a longer article on why ‘Meat is good for you (and the planet)'.
Among the claims made was that ‘half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around or do natural tasks like building a nest for their young or foraging for food’.
It claimed 93% of pigs were kept ‘entirely indoors’ and can ‘attack and eat each other’ if not managed properly and that some pigs were ‘routinely given antibiotics when not unwell to encourage them to put on weight’.
Responding, the National Pig Association (NPA) said it was 'extremely disappointed' to read 'inaccurate references' to UK pig production in the article.
NPA policy services officer, Lizzie Wilson wrote to the paper: “Sadly, you have not chosen to derive your information from credible sources, or current legislation, and in so doing have misrepresented the truth.”
She highlighted that, far from 'half of British sows are kept in cages so small they can’t turn around', the farrowing crates referred to were ‘used for a short period of time to protect vulnerable new born piglets during and after birth, not least because a sow is around 150 times the size of the piglets’.
“For the remaining time, sows on all UK farms roam freely in groups either indoors or outdoors,” Ms Wilson added.
“Routine use of antibiotics is prohibited in the pig sector – in fact the UK pig sector has voluntarily more than halved antibiotic usage within two years. Furthermore, antibiotic growth promoters were banned by the EU in 2006."
She said articles using 'erroneous and inflammatory information' only sought to 'further undermine the commitment and hard work of British farmers'.
“The standards of animal welfare in the UK are some of the highest in the world and far and above many other countries, particularly those trying to encourage us to import their pork which is produced to a much lower standard," Ms Wilson added.