14th October 2003; for immediate use
Viva! Challenges Tesco Over
Following the exposure of severe suffering
in pigs on a Norfolk farm which supplies Tesco, Viva!, has
challenged the supermarket to come clean about the conditions
in which the pigs used for its meat are kept. Viva! produced
the undercover video film which was featured in a story entitled
"Revealed: horror at Tesco pig farm" in The Observer
newspaper on Sunday. The group has condemned the retailer's
response as "lip service".
Viva! investigators visited Cherry Tree Farm at Stow Beddon,
owned by Bowes of Norfolk, in August of this year and filmed,
amongst other welfare problems
- Dead piglets lying in breeding units next to their siblings
- A deep necrotic ulcer on a sow's thigh
- A pig with a severely-damaged trotter; apparently unable
- Maggots crawling over the corpse of a dead piglet
- A sow with a weeping eye infection
- A sow with a half-expelled still-born piglet hanging from
Investigators also filmed other skin lesions, animals crowded
together in pens containing large puddles of water, breeding
sows confined to farrowing crates (tiny metal cages so small
they are unable even to turn around), animals with no bedding
and emaciated, sickly piglets.
Bowes of Norfolk is a meat processing company turning over
£60 million per year. Bowes supply much of Tesco's pork,
including all of its "Finest" range, and are featured
on Tesco's website as an example of one of its best suppliers.
In the Observer article Tesco state "We expect
the highest standards from our suppliers and they are audited
regularly to ensure these standards are met. We take allegations
of this kind very seriously."
Viva! campaigner Alistair Currie said "Tesco have made
all the right noises but that doesn't alter the fact that
we found evidence of significant animal suffering on a farm
they promote as one of their most valued suppliers. If you
look at Tesco's website they promote Bowes of Norfolk with
pictures of happy looking pigs, frolicking in the open air.
The reality is that hundreds of Bowes' pigs are kept on classic
factory farms like Cherry Tree Farm, living out their entire
lives indoors and suffering from all the welfare problems
that go with the production of cheap meat. Bowes tell us that
they shot the pigs who were suffering most the next day -
our question is why they ever had to suffer so badly in the
first place? Tesco should come clean and tell people what
the lives of their pigs are really like - then they could
at least make their own minds up."
Notes for Editors
Still and video images from the investigation are available
The Observer story appeared in the main section, p9,
on Sunday 19th October.
Bowes have been Tesco suppliers for 17 years. They employ
approximately 500 people. Some of their farms have RSPCA Freedom
Food accreditation, but not Cherry Tree.
The farm was entered causing no criminal damage. Biosecurity
precautions were observed.