‘Star pig doesn’t scratch’ – Do the NGOs think that one star for pork is enough?

The shelf label is misleading and incorrect, says Varkens in Nood. Because although Albert Heijn’s pork almost completely scores 1 star from the Beter Leven Keurmerk, “96% of the pigs never go outside, let alone that they can forage”.

According to the Beter Leven quality mark of the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals, pigs with 1 star get more space (1 m2 against 0.8 m2 in conventional pig farming) and live in larger groups (mandatory from 1 January 2025). With Beter Leven 1 star, diversion and enrichment materials such as straw or hay are not mandatory (but are with 2 and 3-star pigs), and the animals often receive this in the form of “edible material which is always present as tubes where they can be fed with the be able to pull out a few straws with the necessary effort, or daily loose edible material such as alfalfa in combination with a block of wood and/or a sturdy piece of rope.” At many companies, the play equipment mainly consists of a chain to attract or bite into. Free range is only available for 2 and 3 star pigs.

Pigs in Need wants to convince consumers that 1-star pigs don’t go outside and just live in concrete stables without straw or earth to root in. “Eating meat causes animal suffering: the lower the quality mark, the more suffering,” says director Frederieke Schouten. “More and more people are adjusting their purchasing behavior because they no longer want to contribute to this. But sellers like Albert Heijn continue to deliberately mislead consumers to ease their conscience. This perpetuates animal suffering in mega stalls. That is why we are submitting this complaint and we are asking the Advertising Code Committee to disapprove of this advertisement.”

Wakker Dier: low welfare gain
Last week, fellow action organization Wakker Dier managed to get all Dutch supermarkets to sell at least 1-star chicken meat from the end of 2023 at the latest. For pigs, one star is not enough for Pigs in Need. Wakker Dier is also not very pleased with 1-star pork. The organization told the Foodlog editors that the welfare gains associated with the pig star are low compared to conventional Dutch pork produced in accordance with legislation. Unheard of, the under cover[/url] The filming action organization is even sharper and believes that the animal protection star system has failed because it legitimizes meat consumption instead of phasing out. The Dierenbescherming points out the unreasonable expectations of Ongehoord. Spokesperson Niels Dorland says: “We made this choice in 2007, and we have had a vigorous discussion about it internally. Most of the public still eats meat. We want less and better meat and that starts with one star, then two, then three and maybe vegetarianism. Is this enough? That is an ethical discussion. But we cannot force a social change tomorrow. As a quality mark you are under a magnifying glass. There are sometimes excesses and incidents. If we observe this, a company will lose the quality mark.”

Rooting pigs (1 star), Hamletz (2 star) and organic (3 star)
Varkens in Nood makes no mention of Wroetvarken, the maverick among the 1-star pig concepts. Rooting pigs live in an innovative barn system in which their entire pen is covered with sawdust. They can actually dig into that. An additional major advantage is the absence of the strong and pungent ammonia smell that is present in conventional stables. The absence of the stench is achieved because the solid manure and urine are separated and the sawdust smells pleasant. The meat of Wroetvarken is only available from butchers. Wakker Dier sees the Wroetvarken as an exception to the limited welfare gains of 1-star pigs.

Under the Hamletz brand, Albert Heijn also carries two star pigs that do go outside. Hamletz is the only 2-star meat produced in the Netherlands. Insofar as other supermarket formulas supply it, they get it from abroad and where it is produced against different (slightly lower) requirements. Albert Heijn also sells 3-star organic pork with a run-out. However, due to the price difference with ‘normal’ 1-star pigs, the share in the sales of these types of meat is limited to a few percent.
The offer is comparable at other Dutch supermarket formulas.