Pigmeat welfare standards

As of November 2013, the GBS has had a new criterion added: ‘Where buying pork and pork products compliant with UK standards, as set out in the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007, or equivalent would lead to an overall increase in costs for the authority, all pork and pork products are to be sourced at minimum from pig production systems that comply with EU requirements.’

This criterion should be included as a contract performance condition. UK standards are as required by the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007 (separate versions apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), and EU standards are defined by Council Directive 2008/120/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs. The GBS still requires pigmeat to be procured to UK standards if there is no overall increase in cost.

Below is a draft award criterion for pork, bacon and other pig meat products for human consumption. It is aimed at improving the quality of the products procured by contracting authorities, whilst also recognising the importance of improving animal health and welfare standards. The criterion was originally published as Annex A of the OGC Procurement Policy Note – Introduction of proportionate quality based contract award criteria for the supply of pig meat products (pdf).

Proposed criterion

  1. Does the tender meet the following standards?

    1. The requirements of Council Directives 98/58/EC and 91/630/EEC as amended by Council Directive 2001/88/EC and Commission Directive 2001/93/EC; and
    2. The requirements of the Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007 No. 2078) and equivalent legislation in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales* that implement the EU directives in these countries, and in particular Schedule 8 paragraph 27 of the 2007 Regulations, which states:

      “Sows and gilts must be kept in groups except during the period between seven days before the predicted day of farrowing and the day on which the weaning of piglets (including any piglets fostered) is complete”.

      This provision requires that breeding sows and gilts are not allowed to be kept in close-confinement stalls. This reflects the EU restrictions on the use of sow stalls that come fully into force across the EU from 1 January 2013. In addition this provision requires that sows and gilts are not kept in close-confinement stalls for the first four weeks after insemination, which will continue to be permitted in the EU after 2013.

  2. Does the pig meat supplied meet the following requirements designed to improve the quality of the meat by reducing stress levels in pigs, and minimising risk to human health which can also cause pathogens such as Campylobacter to become more invasive and capable of moving from the gut into other tissues which poses a risk to human health?

    1. Pigs receiving good veterinary care with visits from surgeons every three months to inspect all areas of the farm and check upon the health and welfare of the stock;
    2. Pigs able to express normal behaviour and free from fear and distress by being treated in a manner that avoids mental suffering. In particular the use of electric goads or sharp sticks for handling stock is not permitted;
    3. Pigs, which if male, have preferably not been castrated. If they have been castrated, this shall have taken place without the tearing of tissues and, if after the seventh day of life, by a veterinary surgeon using an anaesthetic and additional prolonged analgesia.
  3. The Authority will accept as credible evidence of compliance with the above:

    1. The following farm assurance schemes:
      • Red Tractor food assurance scheme
      • Quality Meat Scotland (QMS)
      • BPEX Quality Standard Mark
      • LEAF Marque food assurance scheme or equivalent standard
      • RSPCA Freedom Food Scheme
      • Approved organic schemes**
    2. Equivalent farm assurance schemes operating in the United Kingdom and other countries that meet the requirements set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 above.
    3. Other evidence providing proof of compliance with the requirements set out in paragraphs 1 and 2 above. For food packers or processors, for example, the evidence can take the form of a current licence to use a relevant food assurance scheme.
  4. If requested by the Authority, the Contractor shall obtain and submit, at the Contractor’s expense, independent verification that evidence submitted to the Authority provides credible assurance that the Authority’s requirements are being met.
  5. Independent verification means that an evaluation is undertaken and reported by an individual or body whose organisation, systems and procedures conform to ISO Guide 65:1996 (EN45011: 1998) – General requirements for bodies operating product certification systems or equivalent – and who is accredited to undertake such evaluations by a body whose organisation, systems and procedures conform to ISO 17011:2004 – General Requirements for providing assessment and accreditation of conformity assessment bodies or equivalent.

* The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 244), The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 488) and The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Wales) Regulations 2007 (S.I. 2007 No.3070 (W. 264)).

** The following are UK approved Organic Certification Bodies: Organic Farmers And Growers Ltd, Scottish Organic Producers Association, Organic Food Federation, Soil Association Certification Ltd, Bio-Dynamic Agricultural Association, Irish Organic Farmers And Growers Association, Organic Trust Limited, Quality Welsh Food Certification Ltd and Ascisco Ltd.

Page last modified: 21 July, 2014