Pigmeat labelling – just a load of porkies

It is estimated that consumers pay a 20-25% premium for free range pigmeat. However, at present there are no specific regulations on the words used to describe how the pigs which go to produce ham, bacon and pork have been reared.

In fact there is no current obligation on retailers to give any indication at all on labelling about the way the meat was produced.

However, if statements about the pigs are made on labels or in advertisements, then there is some legal control. Both the Trade Descriptions Act and the Food Safety Act make it an offence for a retailer or advertiser to use wording which is either false or which is likely to mislead consumers.

What the food industry says is that consumers are not being misled by the current labels. However, the RSPCA has written to the Defra, the Food Standards Agency, the British Pig Executive (BPEX), the British Retail Consortium and leading supermarkets demanding a change to the labelling amid concerns that the lack of information could mislead the consumer.

Owen Warnock, partner and food law expert at international law firm Eversheds comments,“The RSPCA is calling for more precise regulations which specifically define what is meant by a series of phrases about pig rearing, such as ‘outdoor-reared’ and ‘outdoor-bred’.

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