Pig fattening on cargo ships with subsequent slaughtering in the EU

26 April 2013    
Jörg Leichtfried (S&D)


Information is coming to light concerning the fattening of pigs on cargo ships operating in international waters for weeks on end. In some cases feedstuffs are delivered by helicopter. These ships mostly operate under the flag of states that that have fewer or far less stringent regulations than those that apply in the area of livestock farming within the EU. Thus, international waters are almost like a lawless zone because there are no regulations under international laws and any state controls are in practice very few and far between. When the animals are ready for slaughter, they are landed in EU Member States and carried onwards within the EU. The animals are then finally slaughtered and processed and declared as meat from the country in which processing takes place.

Is the Commission aware of this practice?

If so, is the Commission prepared make this information publicly available?

If the Commission is unaware of this practice, does it plan to initiate research into this matter?

Does the Commission regard itself as responsible to the citizens of the European Union and does it believe it is obliged to ensure the greatest possible food safety and to offer consumers the best possible information about the origin of food?


7 June 2013    

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

The Commission is not aware of this practice.

In this respect the Commission would refer to all the legal requirements applicable in this case on import of meat(1) or of live animals(2).

Import of live pigs into the EU may only occur from a restricted list of authorised third countries (Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2010(3)), and must be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate, signed by the competent authorities of the country of origin. These animals may only be introduced into the EU through listed Border Inspection posts, where they are inspected by an official veterinarian, checking that they fulfil all the requirements provided for in the EU legislation.

Anybody having information on possible illegal imports of live pigs should immediately refer this information, with as much detail as possible, to the Competent Veterinary Authorities of the port of entry, in order to ensure that the EU high standards of public health, animal health and welfare, are not compromised.

(1)    http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/trade/index_en.htm
(2)    http://ec.europa.eu/food/international/trade/importing_en.htm
(3)    OJ L 146, 11.6.2010.