New Zealand pig farmers are backing a petition calling for imported pork to be required to meet the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand pork.
Approximately 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported with most of it produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country, David Baines, chief executive of NZPork, which represents New Zealand pig farmers, said.
"New Zealand's pork sector operates to high welfare standards compared to many other countries who have less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes."
New Zealand's commercial pig herd also had a high health status and was not affected by the diseases that were having a serious impact on pork industries in other countries, Baines said.
"That's why we are seeking Kiwis' support for cheaper foreign pork to be forced to meet New Zealand's high animal welfare standards.
"It's time for this cheaper imported pork to either shape up or ship out."
New Zealand imported pork from a range of countries including the United States, Spain, Canada and Poland.
Overseas, some pig farmers routinely castrated all male piglets, often without pain relief.
In New Zealand, this procedure was rarely ever carried out, and if it was, only a veterinarian could do so, and mandatory pain relief was required.
Gestation stalls for pregnant sows were also banned in New Zealand.
The EU allowed the stalls for the first 28 days of pregnancy and most states in the US allowed them for the entirety of a sow's pregnancy.
Unlike other countries, the use of antibiotics as growth promotants was prohibited in New Zealand and porcine somatotropin, a pig growth hormone, was not used here.
"A good tip to check where your pork comes from is to look at the label," Baines said.
"Look for a 100% NZ Pork label. If it says 'made in New Zealand with local and imported ingredients', then chances are it is imported."
Find out more about the petition here.