“PigCare” Certification is Nonsense Says NZ Group

An animal advocacy group called SAFE is criticizing a new animal welfare initiative in New Zealand.

Save Animals From Experiments (SAFE) has called the new “PigCare” accreditation “nonsense” because the standards for the audit are lax enough that a pig farm can receive PigCare accreditation even if they still use gestation crates.

Gestation crates, or sow stalls as they are also known, are cage-like enclosures that immobilize mother pigs during their pregnancy. Ostensibly the purpose of these stalls is to prevent fighting among sows who are kept together. But these benefits are countered by the increased stress and cruelty of the crates. By the end of their lives, sows are often too big for the crates and have to lie in awkward positions to fit.

Director Hans Kriek has criticized the PigCare auditing process because a farm can receive accreditation, along with a certification on their packaging that says the pigs were “well-cared for” – a very vague assurance at best – even though that farm may use gestation crates, commonly thought to be among the most cruel practices of factory farming.

Humane-washing is the process of labeling animal products as “humane”, “cruelty-free” as a marketing ploy. Cage-free eggs and free-range meats are examples of this phenomenon. The PigCare label is obviously an attempt by pig farmers to court consumers and stave off governmental regulation as long as possible.

The problem is that SAFE is criticizing PigCare for being a meaningless humane-washed label, but their criticism hinges on a single issue: gestation crates. However it isn’t as though animal cruelty ends when gestation crates are phased out. SAFE is in effect criticizing PigCare not for humane-washing, but for not humane-washing enough. SAFE has clearly stated they would like to see labels that clearly indicate whether gestation crates are used for the benefit of customers.

But “sow stall free pork” is no different than “cage free eggs”. All animal products, whether they come from animals confined in cages or not, whether they come from free-range animals or not, are inherently cruel.

No animal that is raised to eventually become food can possibly be “well-cared for”, and some of the most horrifying industry practices – castration without anesthesia and boiling animals alive for example – can be practiced while still receiving such labels.

SAFE and many other organizations are misguided when they attempt to impose these kind of welfare-based reforms on the industry. The only meaningful change we can make in the lives of animals raised for food is an unconditional, principled boycott of all animal products.

If you want to prevent cruelty to pigs, chickens, cows, dogs, horses, elephants, mice, cats, monkeys, apes, whales, or dolphins, go vegan. Take a stand against the viewpoint that animals are products for our use and work for the end of industries that exploit animals for profit.


Photo: Public Domain. USDA.


Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman8 years ago


Susan Pernot
Susan Pernot8 years ago

Gimme a break this is a barbaric practice. :(

Teresa T.
teresa thom8 years ago

Gestation crates are absolutely barbaric. For poor pigs it must be a hell on earth. The only way to help animals in the food chain is to stop eating them. Being realistic this will not happen at present, these organisations who give accreditation to farms are frequently being questioned, as there is evidence that there has been no improvement in their conditions. The pressure must be kept up on both farms and these agencies. We certainly owe it to the thousands of animals who live each day of their lives in misery.

Joy Dantine
Joy Dantine8 years ago

I wished this issue had a poll. PigCare does not dictate good care or bad care in this case.

Manuela C.
Manuela C8 years ago

Thank you.

Frances B.
Frances Bell8 years ago

A vegan rant? What does Clara H think happens in abbatoirs? Even if the animal really is well-cared for during it's life, does she really think that being slaughtered is humane, and that abuse doesn't happen in abbatoirs? Wake up, people!

Robert Hamilton-Bruce

It is amazing that the members of Care 2 still prefer to fight between themselves rather than write to the Japanese embassy in their capital city. It is no wonder that whaling keeps on keeping on when the very people claiming interest in the welfare of the whale are fighting amount, amongst other things, the eating of primate brains. Grow up, stick with the issue. Fight the bastards supporting the killing of the whales and not each other. Can you imagine the comfort you give these people when they read of you voicing your personal animosities which are unconnected to whaling?

Lata A.
Lata Roose8 years ago

Bravo Ruth I agree 100% with you!
We are not carnivore or omnivore we are supposed to eat grains fruits and veggies! People think that we can eat drink what ever we like but our bodies tell us differently. Look at all the sick people around us. If we were to live in the olden days I think more than 50% of us would not survive due to ill heath! Stay away from meat and you will live at least happier as you will not be participating in the torture and slaughter of these poor animals

clara H.
Clara Hamill8 years ago

Another vegan rant that is trying to brainwash you to eat their diet. Not all places treat the pigs like that and two It will not work trying to convert people not everyone can eat your diet get use to it. Your better off trying to get rid of the Gestation pens and get them treated better before being eaten.

Heather G.
Heather G8 years ago

"humane" is just a way to make people feel better about eating animals that were tortured just so they can have steak for dinner.