Revealed: the cruelty of UK pork supplies

Europe’s pigs are being farmed in horrendous and often illegal conditions, a new investigation by Ecostorm on behalf of Compassion In World Farming revealed this month. Conducting an undercover investigation in farms across Europe investigators found poor welfare prevalent in virtually all farms visited. Most of the sows – the mother pigs – that were seen were kept in stalls so narrow that they cannot even turn round. Most fattening pigs are packed into overcrowded barren, often dirty pens.

The study recorded a high rate of poor animal welfare:

  • Up to 100 per cent of visits found routine tail docking – prohibited by EU law
  • Widespread lack of environmental enrichment – prohibited by EU law
  • Continued use of confinement systems for pregnant and mothering sows – currently allowed by EU law

“In general the situation of the pigs was very alike in all countries we visited,” explained one undercover investigator. “The pigs looked uncared for, they showed aggressive behaviour and there was nothing for the pigs to do. The floors were bare, space was very little and the places very dirty. It’s horrifying to imagine that most of the meat sold in the supermarkets, restaurants and that we see in daily life is being kept in these conditions.”

Chief Policy Advisor for Compassion in World Farming, Peter Stevenson said; “Our investigation illustrates the effects of an industrial system on a highly sentient, intelligent animal. Most pigs in the EU suffer greatly in the harsh world of factory farming.” The six month long study was conducted on an unprecedented scale to expose conditions across Europe. Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom all came under scrutiny and provide a snapshot of pig farming across the continent.

See coverage of the investigation in The Independent