Investigation finds quarter of meat sold in UK 'does not meet animal welfare standards'

PigsAn investigation by the Guardian newspaper has found that a quarter of meat being sold in the UK comes from farms that do not meet national animal welfare standards.

While the UK has some of the highest standards for animal welfare in the world, there is no restriction on importing meat from countries where such standards do not apply, and where meat is cheaper – another reason to cut down on meat consumption.

The report reveals that more than half of bacon sold in the UK comes from the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and Italy – and 43 per cent of other pork products from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg – where pigs are kept in smaller pens for longer than is allowed in the UK. A quarter of poultry sold in the UK comes from countries that allow chickens to be stocked at a higher density than is allowed in the UK. Three per cent of beef is imported from Brazil, where castration, hot branding and dehorning of cattle is routinely carried out.

“Sometimes people may be making false assumptions about products, sometimes they may have genuinely lower standards – I don’t think people know what the situation is,” Sue Davies, chief policy adviser for the consumer lobby group Which? told the newspaper.

Kevin Pearce, head of food and farming at the National Farmers Union, added that consumers buying meat probably thought all standards were the same. The Soil Association has already said that imported pork and poultry labelled “organic” often does not meet the UK’s organic standards

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