Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Jamie Oliver says British public 'ignorant' about way pigs are reared

British shoppers are ignorant about the conditions in which the pigs that supply much of their bacon and pork are kept, according to Jamie Oliver, as the TV chef launches a new campaign.

Oliver and the RSPCA will call on the EU to set tougher minimum welfare standards for farmers and legislate on more honest labelling about how their animals are reared.

The RSPCA hopes Oliver's programme, Jamie Saves Our Bacon – to be screened by Channel 4 this month – will help to do for pigs what it and another celebrity chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, did for chickens last year. Their campaigns led to significant increases in sales of poultry raised to higher welfare standards.

Britain is only about 25% self-sufficient in bacon and 70% in pork, meaning it imports large quantities of pig meat, which farmers in the UK complain comes from animals generally raised in worse and more intensive indoor conditions, including in much of the EU. But the RSPCA's Julia Wrathall said even in this country "a significant number" of the 9 million animals reared for meat each year "are living out their lives in unacceptable conditions".

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