THE NATIONAL Pig Association has launched Best Practice Guidelines for retailers and food service companies in a bid to make it clearer to consumers what they are buying. 

Companies signing up to the guidelines commit themselves to clearly label all their pork, bacon, ham and sausages in terms of country of origin.

They also agree to transparent and independent auditing of the labelling of the products they sell.

Moreover, if they choose to sell pigmeat products failing to meet the legal standards for pig production in Britain, they must label these products accordingly.

One supermarket, Tesco, has already indicated its support for the guidelines, and several others are expected to do so in the coming weeks.

The guidelines were launched by the Lord Carter, deputy leader of the House of Lords, on behalf of DEFRA, and he urged retailers and food service companies to sign up to them.

NPA chairman Stewart Houston insisted that the guidelines were not drawn up to stop imports of pork products, but to ensure that honest information is given to consumers.

He also said that retailers which support British standards were disadvantaged by competitors who sold cheaper meat from pig farms which would be illegal in Britain.

A recent report showed that around 70% of pork and pork products imported last year came from farms with welfare standards below the legal requirements in Britain.