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Scottish Pig Industry Welcomes Welfare Label Commitment from Asda

The Scottish pig industry was today (June 20th 2013) given a major boost following a move by Asda, to reinstate the Specially Selected Pork label approved by Scottish SPCA on its shelves.

The Specially Selected Pork label approved by the Scottish SPCA highlights the high welfare standard of pigs on Scottish farms. Asda was quick off the mark to stock pork products bearing the label when it was launched almost four years ago.

The closure of Asda’s previous supplier, Halls of Broxburn, resulted in stocks of Specially Selected Pork labelled being temporarily off the shelves of the retail giant.

However, Asda pigmeat supplier, Cranswick Country Foods, is now working with  Dunbia Elgin, which has increased its slaughter throughput to ensure Asda’s 57 Scottish stores can be supplied with the Scottish SPCA-approved product.

Pig farms throughout Scotland are visited by Scottish SPCA inspectors as part of the ground-breaking initiative behind the label. The initiative was the UK's first farm assurance and food labeling scheme independently approved by a national animal welfare charity.

Participation is voluntary and around 98% of total Scottish pig production has now been inspected by the Scottish SPCA.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This is a timely boost to the pig industry in Scotland and demonstrates that our producers adhere to the highest standards of animal welfare while producing top quality pork. The scheme is a further reminder of Scotland’s first class standards from farm to fork.

“It is important that consumers can purchase the finest possible pork and the Asda Specially Selected Pork label offers them that reassurance on the origin that they expect after the horse meat scandal.

“The scheme also delivers real benefits to our valued pig sector guaranteeing the quality and provenance of Scottish pork, the high welfare standards that are in place, and using a supply chain which supports the industry at a local and national level.”

“Asda was quick off the mark to support this award-winning, welfare-focused initiative when we launched it three years ago,” said Jim McLaren, Chairman of QMS.

“Consequently we are delighted that Asda have made their commitment to the label clear in their quest to get ‘Specially Selected Pork Approved by Scottish SPCA’ back on their shelves as soon as possible.”

Mr McLaren added: “Today’s news is a welcome shot in the arm for the industry and we look forward to  other retailers likewise seizing the opportunity to stock a brand which meets consumers’ requirements for provenance, quality assurance and welfare.

“Consumers are increasingly reporting animal welfare is a priority when making purchase decisions so it is vital there is strong awareness of our industry’s excellent welfare credentials.”

Asda’s Head of Sustainable Sourcing, Dr Chris Brown, said: “We are delighted to be in a position to reinstate the brand, which is the UK's first farm assurance and labelling scheme approved by a national animal welfare charity.

“Scotland’s livestock farmers are in a class of their own when it comes to producing top quality products at the highest welfare standards, and we know our customers want to see it on Asda shelves.  Thanks to our new contract with Dunbia Elgin, we’re able to maintain our commitment to offering Specially Selected Pork in all of our Scottish stores.

“Asda has been working hard to support the Scottish pig industry over the years and this partnership is another great example of collaboration in the supply chain.”

Scottish SPCA Chief Executive Stuart Earley, who also attended today’s launch, welcomed the announcement.

He said, “This is a very positive move which further demonstrates the extremely high standards of welfare on Scottish pig farms.

“Consumers purchasing Specially Selected Pork labelled as approved by the Scottish SPCA can be confident the product has been sourced from farms where the health and welfare of pigs is a top priority.”
The integrity of this scheme is founded on the fact that the Scottish SPCA receives no income, either directly or through any subsidiary, from the inspections. As a result consumers can have complete confidence in the impartiality and independence of the inspection process.