Tell Primo to let you know which countries they import their pork from

24 April 2018

Pigs are amongst the most intensively farmed animals on the planet. Across the world pigs are reared in intensive, barren factory farms where they are confined in steel cages for most of their lives.

Primo is the biggest producer of processed pork products in Australia, and a lot of their pork is imported. But they don’t say which country their pork comes from, so you have no way of knowing how the pigs in their products are treated. The only information on their labels states that imported pork comes from Europe or North America, which is meaningless and inadequate. 

Primo buys pork from countries such as the US and Canada where, unlike most Australian farms, many pregnant pigs are kept in cages, known as ‘sow stalls’, for their entire pregnancy. The mother pig is confined, isolated, bored and distressed.

Three out of four of the world’s mother pigs remain in cages. Used as breeding machines, these pigs spend their lives in steel cages no bigger than a fridge, unable to turn around or move freely.

While the European Union has banned the use of these cages for the entire pregnancy, they remain commonplace in the US and Canada, where Primo sources a lot of its pork. This is not only bad for pigs, it also means the efforts of Australian pig farmers to improve welfare are undermined by businesses overseas that still use these cruel cages.

Pigs deserve better and so do consumers

The majority of Australian mother pigs are spared this treatment because the pig industry, and the Australian supermarkets where most pork is purchased, know that Australian consumers are concerned about animal welfare and want to see pigs raised right.

Food labels should help you make an informed choice

In July, new Country of Origin labelling laws will come into effect in Australia. When a product contains both Australian and imported ingredients, labels must indicate how much of the product is Australian. But they won’t require the labels to name the other countries the food has come from.

You have no way of knowing whether your imported bacon or ham contains pork from a Danish farm that doesn’t use sow stalls for the entire pregnancy, or an American farm that does. You have no way of knowing if you are supporting a producer who keeps pigs in cages, or one that raises pigs right. Coles already provides this information for its home-brand processed pork products. Primo – as Australia’s largest processed pork producer – must match it, and provide Australian consumers with the information they need to buy pork products that meet Australian standards.

Animal welfare isn’t the only reason proper labelling is important. A report in February this year found shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants. At a factory owned by JBS – the owners of Primo – 48 pig carcasses were found to have fallen on the floor because of defective equipment, leading to contamination with “black trolley grease, floor grime and bloody smears” 

Tell Primo to help make sure pigs are raised right

Pigs in factory farms are squashed together in dark, squalid warehouses forced to lie in their own waste. These cramped, stressful conditions provide the perfect breeding ground for the spread of infection, leading to routine, indiscriminate use of antibiotics. Research conducted for World Animal Protection found that eight out of ten people (80%) in Australia are concerned about the human health impact of routine use of antibiotics in farm animals.

Antibiotic use in US farms is much higher than in Europe and Australia. That makes it even more important that labels provide information on where the pork in the product comes from.

All imported pork products should clearly identify which country the pork came from – not just “North America or Europe”so consumers can make an informed choice.

In long term, Primo must ensure that all of its imported pork comes from producers who do no use sow-stalls, and raise pigs right.

“Everyone deserves quality food…”. We believe everyone also deserves to know where their food comes from. Tell Primo to provide that information.
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