The majority of EU countries are likely to miss the deadline to meet new pig welfare legislation, raising the specter of illegally produced pork entering the UK, according to a new report published by British Pig Executive.

Legislation imposing a partial ban on the use of sow stalls in the rest of the EU comes into force in January 2013 – more than 10 years after the UK completely banned their use to raise animal welfare standards. Few, if any, EU Member States will be fully compliant with the legislation and it is acknowledged that a considerable proportion of pig producers in those countries have not yet moved to a welfare-friendly pig production system, said BPEX. “It is more than likely that many pig enterprises throughout the EU will fail to move to full compliance with these higher welfare standards, which incidentally still fall short of the standards adopted by UK pig farmers," said BPEX Chairman Stewart Houston. “So there is every chance that pork produced to lower welfare standards will continue to be imported into the UK illegally."


According to Houston, the situation will be unacceptable to consumers, and will prolong the competitive disadvantage under which the UK pig industry has operated since 1999. “The only way to ensure significant amounts of illegally produced pork are not imported is for major retailer and food service companies to insist, and check, that all produce is fully traceable and meets UK or the new EU standards,” said Houston. 

The European Commission stated earlier in 2011 that it does not propose any derogation to any Member State. While Member States are primarily responsible for implementing the new EU legislation, the inspection service of the European Commission Health and Consumers Directorate General, through its Food and Veterinary Office, regularly carries out audits in Member States to assess the implementation of legislation.