A Game of Thrones actor has crouched in a metal cage in London’s busy Oxford Circus to highlight the “horrific” welfare standards of factory-farmed pork and urge food retailers to stop buying from factory farms.
Jerome Flynn, who plays Bronn in the award-winning TV series, is backing calls for people to sign a letter addressed to supermarket and food chain CEOs including Tesco, Morrisons and Greggs, urging them to source only high welfare pork across own brand ranges.
Flynn said: “Factory farming is one of the most horrific examples of how far we have strayed from our hearts in the relentless drive for profit. We call on all our major retailers to do the right thing and lead the way by ceasing to trade in any meat that isn’t high welfare.
“I call on anyone with a compassionate heart to send a strong message to our government and our supermarkets by refusing to buy any factory farmed meat.”
Flynn also fronts a video that shows some of the conditions factory-farmed pigs are kept in, with other videos due to be released to demonstrate the alternative high-welfare systems and the value of real farms over factories.
The stunt is part of a campaign called ‘Pigs in Chains’ by non-profit campaign group Farms not Factories to highlight the poor pig welfare standards in many supermarket and high street food chain supply chains.
In a survey of 60 high street retailers, three quarters were found to be selling pork from factory farms, with the majority not offering a high-welfare alternative.
At the top of the list for high animal welfare on pork were organic box company Riverford, local sourcing delivery company Farmdrop and organic retailer Whole Foods, while at the bottom were chains including Zizzi, Wagamama, Ask Italian and Wetherspoons.
The survey rated retailers on the level of welfare certification they had for pork sourcing, with organic and free range regarded as ‘high welfare’, RSPCA-assured and outdoor-reared as ‘improved welfare’, and Red Tractor, standard UK or standard EU, or no policy, regarded as ‘low welfare’.
Farms not Factories classifies factory farms as intensive systems that are permitted by the Red Tractor labelling scheme, where animals live indoors in overcrowded and cramped conditions, and female pigs are kept in controversial sow pens.
Founder Tracy Worcester said: “As consumers we can all help end the horrors of factory farming, which causes endemic animal suffering by cramming pigs into barren concrete cages, spreads excessive slurry and nitrates destroying ecosystems and undercutting smaller scale family farms. Only buy RSPCA-assured, free range or best of all organic.”
Farms Not Factories is also calling on the UK government to ban the importation of pork produced in conditions that would be illegal in the UK.