Mother pigs in the United States spend their lives crammed in barren cages where they suffer. Join us in calling on the Government to stop keeping Australians in the dark about the origins of the ham and bacon on our supermarket shelves.
Unclear labels are keeping shoppers in the dark
Pigs are among the most intensively farmed animals on the planet. Globally, three out of four mother pigs are reared in barren factory farms where they are confined to steel cages – sow-stalls – no bigger than a standard fridge, for most of their lives.
Most Australian mother pigs are not kept in sow stalls, in response to consumer demand. The pork industry in Australia supplies the fresh pork in our supermarkets and they’re working on a phase-out of all cages. But what Australians don’t know is that a majority of the processed pork in our supermarkets, such as bacon and ham, comes from pigs raised overseas, including from countries like the United States that keep mother pigs in cages for most of their lives.
Unlike other food products, current labelling laws mean that shoppers have no way of knowing where pork products like ham and bacon came from. The current lack of transparency for pork labelling is unacceptable. It’s having a negative impact on mother pigs who are kept in poor conditions in the United States; forced to live most of their lives in cages.
That’s why clear labelling is important. So shoppers who choose to eat meat are able to make a more responsible decision when buying ham, bacon or other pork products.
Don’t let the Government keep you in the dark
Australian shoppers don’t want to see mother pigs in cages. That’s why clear and transparent labelling is needed so shoppers can make more informed choices at the checkout
What’s wrong with pork from the United States?
While the fresh pork on Australian shelves is farmed locally, most of the processed ham and bacon that people buy is imported. About half of these imports come from North America. Mother pigs in North America remain caged throughout the length of their pregnancy. These cages mean that mother pigs are unable to turn around and laying down is difficult. They’re kept in a barren environment with no stimulation. It leads to both mental and physical suffering. These mother pigs are not given lives worth living.
The welfare of mother pigs isn’t the only reason proper labelling is important. A report in February 2018 found shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants. At one factory, 48 pig carcasses were found to have fallen on the floor because of faulty equipment, leading to contamination with “black trolley grease, floor grime and bloody smears”.
Antibiotic use in North American farms is also much higher than in Europe and Australia. Unlike Australia, US farms are still permitted to use antibiotics that are deemed to be important for human health. They are used excessively as a band-aid solution to poor conditions. This can lead to antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria that can have significant impacts on human health.
Over the last six months, global attention has turned to the conditions in America, particularly those in meat processing plants. As of July, 13 processing plants in America that are authorised to export pork to Australia had experienced mass-outbreaks of COVID-19, some were forced to close. Across the whole US meat industry, over 16,000 employees had been infected leading to 86 fatalities. The President signed an Executive Order requiring the facilities to continue operating, despite the risk of sickness to thousands of vulnerable workers.
This is the broken system currently supplying half of our processed pork products. Pork products coming from America need to be clearly labelled so shoppers can make informed choices. People who choose to eat pork should be able to choose products that support higher welfare, better human health and better conditions for workers. Together, we can keep the pressure on to ensure the Government stops keeping Australians in the dark about the origins of the ham and bacon on our supermarket shelves.