Advertising chiefs have banned three adverts claiming that Red Tractor pork is produced to higher animal welfare standards.
The ban relates to two adverts which carried the text: “Pork not porkies. Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork. Make the pork promise.”
A third advert, in the national press, stated: “Grill it before you buy it. Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork. Make the pork promise.”
Animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the advert.
CIWF claimed it was misleading to assert that “Red Tractor pork is high welfare pork”, arguing that the words couldn't be substantiated.
Some 206 members of the public also complained about the advert.
Joyce D’Silva, from CIWF, said: “This is a victory for consumers, who deserve to be able to choose higher welfare meat without being misled.
“Claims of high welfare are clearly a lucrative marketing tool but in this case they were overblown and misleading to the consumer.
“The “pork not porkies” claim on the advert makes this a particularly embarrassing own-goal for Red Tractor pork.
“This is also a victory for those pig farmers in the UK who adhere to higher welfare standards like the Soil Association’s organic standard or the RSPCA’s Freedom Food.”
The Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board, which was responsible for the adverts through the British Pig Executive (BPEX), stood by the high welfare claim.
It said Red Tractor pork was high welfare compared to pork from the EU exporting countries but EU legislation prevented a direct comparison with imported pork.
BPEX also said it believed consumers would understand that Red Tractor pork was high welfare compared with other pork on the UK shop shelves.
The Advertising Standards Authority said it noted the assertion that pig welfare was generally high in the UK but nonetheless considered that the basis for the claim was unclear from the ads.
“It was unclear that the claim 'Red Tractor Pork is high welfare pork' was a comparative claim with imported pork,” said the authority.
“We considered that the claim implied that there were no concerns about the welfare of pigs in the UK, whereas some areas were unlikely to be regarded as 'high' welfare.
“We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.”
BPEX director Mick Sloyan, BPEX Director said “We accept the opinion of the ASA regarding this small technicality.
“We will continue to promote the independently audited standards behind Red Tractor pork and pork products, including welfare, in a way that is absolutely clear to consumers.”
“The English pig industry continues to invest in research aimed at improving pig welfare, despite the acute financial pressure we are under.
“We are proud of our existing welfare standards and methods of production and we are deepening our understanding of how these impact on the pigs in our care through the Real Welfare Project.
“This is much better for pig welfare than relying on often misplaced views of production systems”.Johann Tasker on G+