How to choose a higher-welfare Christmas ham


Looking to buy a ham this Christmas? We’ve done the hard work for you to help you select a product from a country where pigs’ conditions are better.

This year, now more than ever, it’s important to know where your pork is from, so you can support local farmers doing better by mother pigs.

For many Australians, ham is a big part of their Christmas. However, some of the hams on Australian supermarket shelves come from countries that still keep mother pigs in sow stalls – cages - about the size of your average fridge.

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Notepad with guide for Christmas ham - this list can be downloaded above/

We’ve investigated the Christmas hams on supermarket shelves and given a green ranking to Australian hams, and a red ranking to hams which don’t have any country of origin information, which are likely to be from countries with lower welfare standards. They are also red, because not providing this information to you and your family is unacceptable.

If you’re planning to buy a ham this Christmas, use Your Responsible Ham Guide to make a better choice for pigs and your family.

This year, now more than ever, it’s important to know where your pork is from, so you can support local farmers doing better by mother pigs.

Why knowing where your Christmas ham comes from matters

In the US and Canada, most mother pigs are still kept in cages for their entire pregnancy. Cages that are so small the mother pigs don’t even have enough room to turn around. That’s 119 days of pain, distress and boredom. It’s cruel, and it must end.

European countries are better: the rules say they can only keep mother pigs in cages for 28 days, and in some countries not at all.

Thankfully, Australian pig farmers are getting mother pigs out of cages. In 2010, the industry decided to end the use of cages for all but five days, and that now applies to up to 90% of Australian mother pigs. This commitment puts Australia ahead of most other pig-producing countries.

But there’s still more to do. Even in Australia, pigs could be treated better. We’re working to see an end to unnecessary mutilations, more enriched environments, and we ultimately want to get mother pigs out of confinement after birth.

One of the problems for shoppers who want to avoid lower welfare meat products is Australia’s inadequate country of origin food labels.

Australian shoppers, who choose to eat meat, have no way of knowing if the ham came from a higher welfare Dutch farm, or an American farm where mother pigs suffer in cages for their entire pregnancy.

Some retailers are doing the right thing and going beyond the inadequate labelling laws to give consumers more information. Use our Responsible Ham Guide to help make better choices for mother pigs.

Send a clear message to the pig industry and major supermarkets that pig welfare matters to you.

(Header Image Credit: Thomas Alexander)