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Parma Ham and Animal Cruelty Allegations
What is ham made out of? Pigs, of course! But are they treated like animals or like meat machines? Activists for pig welfare have often released videos of pigs kept in filthy and barren conditions. This time one of the most famous Italian ham producers: Parma Ham consortium was involved in animal cruelty accusations, as an undercover investigation found pigs kept in dire conditions at some of the farms that supply meat for Parma ham.
Parma ham is one of Italy's most famous foods in Italy and abroad, with more than €1 billion euros of sales each year, producing about nine million legs of Parma ham a year and employing 50,000 people.
This famous ham bears the EU's prestigious "protected designation of origin" label, which certifies food and drink that comes from a particular geographical area and is made according to long-established production techniques.
The recently released videos, secretly filmed by LAV (Italian anti-vivisection league) in 6 farms where the famous Parma ham is produced, showed suffering animals kept in stark and illegal conditions in some large breading farms in the Lombardy region. The farms in question are intensive rearing sites in Brescia, Mantua and Cremona, each housing between 3,000 and 10,000 pigs at a time.
Parma ham consortium has replied to the accusations of animals’ mistreatment saying that none of their 145 meet producers has ever been reported for or convicted of animal cruelty and urged those behind these allegations to come forward and immediately report the farms in question, so that the competent authorities could proceed with the necessary inspections.
It is not known how many of the mistreated pigs ended up as Parma ham. According to LAV, the tattoos on the filmed animals showed that they were destined to become cured pork in four of the six farms.
A series of investigations over the last few years have repeatedly revealed concerning conditions, such as pigs being treated roughly, and sick pigs being left to die in the corridors between their pens.
This wasn’t the first animal welfare scandal, animal rights group Essere Animali in 2017 released a video in which workers were filmed apparently moving animals out of pens using sticks, lifting them by their legs and throwing them on the floor.
As far as the latest accusations are concerned, Parma ham industry said these were part of “a smear campaign”. The trade body, the Parma Ham Consortium, declared that they condemn any violation of animal welfare standards and that the deplorable conditions shown in the images couldn’t have escaped the eyes of the official vets in charge of control in the breeding farms.
According to the Parma Ham Consortium the activists used their fame just to get more visibility.