What Are The Requirements Of The Scheme?
In the UK we have a voluntary system of independently audited Quality Assurance for pig production, which operates to internationally recognised standards. Assurance schemes also operate in other EU countries.
Consumers may be interested to know that a key point of difference between normal production standards on pig farms in the UK and all other EU countries (except Sweden) is that the use of stalls and tethers for pregnant sows has been banned in this country since the beginning of 1999. Tethers were banned in Holland in 2003, though stalls are still used. A ban on tethers will be introduced in the rest of the EU from 2006. However, a partial ban on the use of sow stalls will not be introduced in the rest of the EU until 2013. For further information on stalls and tethers click here.
Importing countries are not obliged to meet British minimum legal standards regarding pig welfare. As long as they meet EU standards then that is sufficient. However, some importers have introduced special ‘UK contracts’ which are compatible with key aspects of British pig welfare legislation. These products (around one-third of imports) are therefore entitled to use the Quality Standard Mark on pack, featuring the flag of the product’s country of origin, provided they also meet the other quality standards of the BPEX Quality Assurance Scheme.
Why Has The Mark Been Re-designed?
While quality remains the primary concern of the Scheme, the new Mark also incorporates a national flag to indicate country of origin. British pork and pork products that meet the requirements of the BPEX Quality Standard will display the Mark with the Union flag. The new Mark also allows suppliers of imported product that satisfies the high standards of the Scheme, to use the Mark along with the appropriate national flag to indicate country of origin. The redesigned Mark therefore gives you the opportunity to choose to buy BPEX Quality Standard product from home or abroad.
Supermarkets that use the Mark on pack are gradually replacing the old Mark with the new. This may take some time, so for now, you should continue to rest assured that product which carries either version of the Mark meets the exacting standards of the BPEX Quality Standard Scheme, including the British pig welfare requirements.
What Are The Benefits Of The Mark?
The BPEX Quality Standard Mark is more than an assurance of uniform compliance with all current British legislation and Codes of Practice, it is your guarantee that the product has been produced to very high standards through all stages of production. The fact that the Scheme is independently audited and embraces farm assurance, transportation and slaughter and processing adds to the trust consumers place in the Mark. The use of the Mark therefore enables you to make an informed decision about the product you are buying at the point-of-sale.
However, there are still some companies which currently choose not to use the Mark, despite the fact that they are producing products which are in line with British legislation. This website has been created to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision when purchasing pork, bacon, ham and sausages, in the absence of the BPEX Quality Standard Mark.