On Monday March 26, Italian association, Lega Anti Vivisezione (anti vivisection league), published a video investigation revealing the farming conditions of pigs reared for the production of Parma Ham, San Daniele and Tuscany which showed multiple violations of animal welfare rules.
The video was taken between December 2017 and February 2018 and shot in six different farms.
Caged pigs and live castrated piglets
The video starts with footage of the buildings where the pregnant pigs are placed and the pigs who have delivered piglets are placed.
The mother pigs are then each locked in a cage which is so narrow that it's impossible for them to move or turn around. They can only lie on the ground to allow their young to suckle.
The hygienic conditions are less than acceptable with rats moving around near the pigs, some of whom are injured and poorly cared for.
One very weak and malnourished pig is seen on the verge of death among the others with there being no intention of it being treated.
As is the case with most pig farms, the piglets are castrated live and their tail then cut. This can lead to some of them developing abscesses that eventually completely paralyse their hind legs.
The piglets' tails and testicles are then thrown in containers along with their placenta and the piglets that didn't survive the process. This practice sadly also exists in French abattoirs, as revealed by a former employee.
Pigs raised among corpses
Once they've been weaned, the pigs intended to be slaughtered for Parma ham are placed in another enclosure where conditions are by no means better.
You can also see in the video that a pig has slipped and got stuck on its back in a manger, unable to turn itself back round. Another has a large abdominal hernia which can have very grave and very painful consequences if untreated.
Several between them also suffer from rectal prolapse which again, left untreated, could kill them.
The pigs that don't survive the conditions are not taken to another enclosure but are instead just left with the other pigs for several days. They end up being piled up in a farmyard with tarpaulin placed over them to partially cover their bodies.
There are so many live pigs in the pens that access to water is very difficult. They eat from dirty feeders and have no choice but to urinate on each other.
65% of PDI in Italy is made this way
The production specifications of PDI ham states that the farms must "guarantee the welfare of the animal".
Parma ham, San Daniele and Tuscany make up nearly 65% of PDI and PDG ham production in Italy. The consortium of Parma ham killed over 1,800,000 pigs in 2016.
This is something that associations have had even more difficulty accepting seeing as Parma has been chosen as the best Italian city in terms of quality food production by the Qualivita Foundation. This is also the stance of the European Food Safety Authority.
A European-wide petition has been launched bringing together 60 associations all fighting for animal welfare. This campaign, called End Pig Pain has already got more than 500,000 signatures asking for a more strict enforcement of EU legislation on the welfare of pigs.
You can watch the full video below (attention strong images):