Animal welfare activists are calling for UK supermarkets to stop selling premium ham produced in the EU, like Parma and Bayonne.
Parma ham, which comes from Northern Italy’s Parma region, and Bayonne ham, which originates from the south of France, are widely considered to be premium meat products. But, according to a new investigation, there is nothing premium about the way pigs are treated in the production process.
Compassion in World Farming (CiWF) investigated 16 farms across Italy, Spain, France, and Poland. It discovered sows suffering in stalls and farrowing crates. The latter is a metal cage used to confine a mother pig prior to giving birth.
According to CiWF, around 85 percent of female pigs endure confinement in the EU. This level of restriction is frustrating and extremely limiting for pigs. But also, it often requires them to lie in their own excrement and urine for weeks on end.
Sarah Moyes, the animal welfare organization’s senior campaigns manager, said: “People who pay a premium for products like Parma and Bayonne hams are likely to be shocked to discover that these ‘high-end’ products are from systems that keep animals in such cruel cages.”
She added that sows are “forced to live unimaginably miserable lives.”
Ending the cage age
Last year, the European Commission announced it would ban cages in animal agriculture by 2027. This was after CiWF gathered 1.4 million signatures from people across the EU amid its End the Cage Age European Citizens’ Initiative.
“We’re urging the EU to introduce the ban they promised without delay,” said Moyes. She added that the UK Government should follow suit and introduce its own laws banning cages for farm animals.
It’s not just pigs who are suffering in cages. CiWF notes that roughly 300 million farm animals are caged in the EU. To encourage EU Ministers to act quickly to phase these out, CiWF has set up a contact form here.