Through the event, The Pig Idea hopes to promote the qualities of swill-feeding pigs in the UK and the European Union (EU), by providing the public with free food produced from swill-fed pork. There is currently a zero-tolerance ban on swill-feeding in the EU, since the foot-and-mouth outbreak in 2001.
However, the NPA said that although the concept of the event, which is to be held at Trafalgar Square later today, is “superficially attractive” and promoted by well-meaning people, it is “fundamentally unsafe”.
“And consequently the European Union will not be persuaded to lift its zero-tolerance ban on feeding swill to pigs,” it added.
It claimed that, even if the swill-feeding ban was lifted, the idea would not work commercially because of the overwhelming number of pig farmers who refuse to contemplate swill-feeding. The NPA said the risk of disease was too high and “they [farmers] are opposed to cannibalistic feeding on ethical and food safety grounds”.
“The National Pig Association is opposed to feeding swill because even if the practice were to be allowed by law, inevitably there would be a regulatory breakdown, sooner or later, in one or more of the European Union’s 28 member countries, with the consequent serious disease risk,” it added.
Already the pig industry uses 1.23m tonnes (mt) of co-product from the human food chain each year, the NPA said, which accounts for 43.9% of total pig feed produced.
NPA chairman Richard Longthorp, meanwhile, said the industry preferred to talk about ‘co-product’ and not ‘food-waste’, as “no food is waste if it can be used safely in nutritious pig diets”.
However, he added: “But any waste food we use must be clean, wholesome, contain zero porcine material and must have an independently-audited supply chain that is strictly controlled and regulated. Pig farmers stand ready to do everything they can to recycle waste food — but that does not mean they are prepared to let their animals become society’s dustbins.”
In support of The Pig Idea
In contrast with the NPA’s objections, the Soil Association’s chief executive Helen Browning said her organisation strongly supported The Pig Idea’s campaign. “It is completely in line with our principles of closing nutrient cycles through recycling waste, and reducing the competition between people and animals for food,” she said.
Browning also pointed out the necessity of feeding food-waste to pigs sensibly, so that there was no risk of disease, but added: “Pigs have historically been the recyclers of our leftovers, and it’s high time they played that role more fully again.”
MeatInfo.co.uk will be reporting from the event. Keep reading for more from the day, including stories, pictures and a video.