Quarter of UK meat imports from farms with worse animal welfare

At least 25% of meat in the UK has arrived from overseas farms that do not have to meet national standards of animal welfare, it has been revealed.

An investigation by UK newspaper The Guardian has found that more than half the bacon sold in the UK comes from Holland, Denmark, Germany and Italy, where farmers are permitted to keep sows in smaller pens, and for longer periods.

The survey also found that 43% of other pork products came from Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, where poorer conditions on pig farms are also allowed.

Furthermore, a quarter of poultry in the UK comes from seven European countries. plus Brazil, all of whom allow higher stocking of chickens and do not force farmers to use dry bedding, which is more comfortable for chickens.

According to Kevin Pearce, head of food and farming at the National Farmers Union: "If consumers know anything about it, they probably think all the standards are the same," he said.

"It's not about farmers whingeing, we want to be able to compete fairly. If the customers say 'that's the standard we want', we want to do our best to produce it. Where we have a problem is if the price is too high or the supply too short they'll go elsewhere to get it."

There is particular concern over the quality of imported food used in restaurants, pubs, canteens and other catering outlets, which now accounts for half of the money spent on food in the UK.

>> NFU calls for animal welfare to be Europe-wide

>> Devon slaughtermen have licenses revoked

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