Australians don’t want mother pigs kept in sow stalls – tiny cages where they suffer while pregnant. Our pig industry is phasing them out. But most of the processed pork in our supermarkets – like bacon and ham – contains imported pork, with a lot coming from countries that still use sow stalls throughout pregnancy.
Disturbingly, the new Country of Origin labelling laws that come into force on 1 July don’t require producers to tell you where imported pork comes from. You have no way of knowing.
That’s why we’re calling on Primo – Australia’s biggest processed pork producer – to provide information on their labels about which country their imported pork comes from, so you can avoid countries where sow stalls are used throughout pregnancy.
About half of the processed pork in supermarkets comes from Europe, where mother pigs are not kept in sow stalls throughout pregnancy. But the other half comes from the US and Canada, where sow stalls are still common. Worryingly, antibiotic use in US and Canadian farms is higher than in Europe and Australia.
Research conducted for World Animal Protection found that seven out of ten people (70%) in Australia are concerned about the human health impact of routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.
The new Country of Origin labelling laws don’t help because they don’t make companies like Primo tell you where the imported pork comes from, only what percentage of the product is Australian. Australian consumers who buy bacon or ham with imported pork have no way of knowing whether it comes from a Danish farm that doesn’t use sow stalls, or an American farm that does.
Major processed pork producers like Primo have this information – but they aren’t making it public. All Primo has on its packaging is the meaningless commitment that the pork comes from Europe or North America. There is no reason not to be more transparent. Coles tells its customers which countries its home-brand processed pork products come from – Primo must match this.
The welfare of mother pigs isn’t the only reason clear labelling is important.
A report in February this year found shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants. At a factory owned by JBS – the owners of Primo – 48 pig carcasses were found to have fallen on the floor because of defective equipment, leading to contamination with “black trolley grease, floor grime and bloody smears”. A significant amount of Australia’s pig imports come from the US.
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