The National Pig Association (NPA) has issued a response to the media stories suggesting British pig farms are at the centre of a ‘cruel horse hormone torture scandal’.
The story, which first appeared on the front page of the Mirror and on its website, refers to what the Mirror describes as ‘horrific vampire farms’ in South America where blood is extracted from horses for use in meat production.
Describing the ‘vile process’ behind the blood extraction, the story goes on to claim that meat sold in Britain comes from animals that have been given the hormone, known as Pregnant Mare’s Serum Gonadotropin (PMSG).
Although it says PMSG is used mainly in pigs but also sheep and cows, the article acknowledges that it is unclear how widespread PMSG use is in the UK.
The NPA, which was quoted in the article, says it understands the concern over the conditions on the South American horse farms – but stresses that use of the product is not standard practice on UK pig farms.
NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: “We are aware that a small number of products containing PMSG are authorised for use in pigs in the UK for the induction and synchronisation of oestrus.
“However, our understanding is that these products are used very little, if at all, in UK pig production as good management such as boar presence, sow nutrition and proper lighting means that sows naturally return to oestrus after weaning which negates the need to use them.
“It is also important to stress that, as an oestrus synchronisation product for breeding pigs, it would never be used in pigs destined for meat.
“Despite suggestions in the media that this is a story about British pigmeat, we want to make it clear use of the product is not by any means standard practice in the UK. The UK pig industry prides itself on the high standards that underpin our pig production.”