UK pig welfare ad sparks big row

2 June 2000

UK pig welfare ad sparks big row

ACCUSATIONS, insults and threats filled the airwaves and column inches of the press this week following the appearance on Tuesday of a hard-hitting advert promoting UK pigmeat in the national press.

It highlights the fact that, unlike most other countries, UK pigs are not fed on meat and meat bonemeal. Featuring a sow suckling piglets accompanied by the slogan, "After shes fed them, she could be fed to them", it encourages the consumer to look for the British Quality Mark on pigmeat products.

The ensuing arguments have received massive exposure. British Pig Executive chief Mick Sloyan had done 19 radio interviews by Wednesday morning.

The MLC said it "could not have hoped for more" in terms of media response despite the criticism of the advert – the second in a £4.6m campaign to promote British pigmeat. The first highlighted the fact that, while UK sows cannot be kept in stalls by law, foreign pigs can.

The British Meat Federation said the adverts look like the work of anti-meat pressure groups, while UK supermarkets are claiming they could put people off pigmeat altogether.

But Mr Sloyan said the second advert had only been published following extensive research showing that consumers would not be put off pigmeat by the campaign. He said its purpose was to promote British specification pigmeat, not all pigmeat.

Dutch Meat Board managing director Robert Smith described the latest advert as "xenophobic, irresponsible, inaccurate and inflammatory".

John Howard, of the Danish Danish Meat and Bacon Council, was equally critical, describing the adverts as "disturbing".

But both men played down the prospect of retaliation, saying their industries would adopt a "wait and see" approach before deciding how to react. They admitted that some of the pigmeat their industries export to the UK does not match the UK specification on meat and bonemeal and confined housing.

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