Call for higher animal welfare standards for Parma ham pigs
Campaigners for animal welfare believe it is time for shops to stop carrying premium ham made by EU farmers who continue to use practices outlawed in the UK.
According to Compassion in World Farming, the majority of Parma ham sold in the UK is produced using crates that imprison pregnant sows.
So-called “sow stalls” have been outlawed in the UK since 1999, although their restricted use is permitted elsewhere in the EU.
According to industry group the British Retail Consortium, UK retailers set the bar for strong welfare standards.
Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) stated that it would like to see all food firms, producers, and merchants agree to eliminate all pig farming’s use of confinement crates.
That also includes farrowing crates, which are permitted in both the UK and the EU and are used to restrain sows during and after delivery in order to prevent them from crushing their piglets.
By 2027, the European Commission hopes to have new regulations in place that would outlaw all caged agricultural practices, including the use of sow stalls and farrowing boxes.
Individual sow stalls are still permitted to be used for the first four weeks of a sow’s four-month pregnancy despite a 2013 EU partial restriction on their use.
It is argued that employing stalls enables better individual feeding, protection from other pigs’ aggressive behaviour, and simpler access to medical care.
However, proponents of animal welfare claim that they give sows limited freedom to manoeuvre and prevent them from engaging in instinctive and motivated behaviours like foraging or socialising with other pigs.
The UK government is thinking of gradually banning farrowing crates in addition to banning sow stalls in 1999.
According to the National Pig Association, the majority of sows in the UK are maintained in indoor pig units, where they give birth to and nurse their piglets in farrowing crates.
The NPA opposes a ban on farrowing crates and claims that the ban on sow stalls in 1999 led to the loss of half the UK pig sector, which was later replaced by meat produced in the EU using the stalls.