Animal Welfare, it’s about respecting and valuing animals

Charles BaughanAs an animal lover, I sometimes question how we can bottom out the fact that so many pigs are killed each week to make our sausages. I also find it difficult to give detailed assurance on the welfare of the pigs we use. I should make it clear we use 100% fresh British Pork 100% of the time and we endeavour to use pork from our region where ever possible. All the meat is fully traceable back to the original farm. These farms subscribe to a number of welfare schemes.

There seems to be a certain “mission creep” with regards to welfare that means regular introduction of yet another term or scheme used to define the welfare. Sometimes this is less than helpful and I think we might be missing a very valuable couple points. The life, death and processing of a pig is something that can be emotive. However, I believe we must ensure that we respect animals at all times and, if we kill an animal, then we should fully value it.

The welfare enjoyed by British Pigs is some of the best in the world but no amount of clipboards and checklists can give me categorical assurance of the animals being respected in every case. However, in our industry we are in a privileged position to actively work with our supply chains to do whatever we can whenever we can to constantly improve welfare.

When valuing animals we kill, what are the most valuable cuts in a pig? An Asian perspective on snouts, ears and feet is entirely different to ours in the UK. Processors are now starting to work in these markets and treat these items accordingly and many plants have introduced new procedures to ensure the quality of processing and packing is tightly controlled. This is surely heading towards making best use of the pigs and getting maximum value; we must now ensure that the Health Certificates are in place to allow us to export these “fifth quarter” items to the Asian markets where they are most valued.

When I was a kid, if I did not finish my meal, I was lucky enough to have it served up again at the next meal time, and I know many other households had the same approach. There has to be something wrong that today we throw away around 7m tonnes of food and drink a year from our homes in the UK. There are two main reasons a) we prepared too much, or b) we did not use it in time before it went off.

I think as food processors and manufacturers we can help consumers to help themselves in this. At Westaways we have launched a range of IQF re-sealable, recyclable packs of pork sausages to allow customers to manage portion control and to preserve any items not used for a future meal. This might even save quite so many expensive trips to the shops. Sounds simple, but sometimes the best ideas are just that.

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