Free range pork and turkey

The lack of a clear definition of free range makes it difficult for consumers to know exactly how Australian free-range meat is farmed
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04.Jargon Buster

is your pork really free range?

"Bred free range", "bred free" or "outdoor bred"

Often confused with free range, these are marketing terms referring to pigs that are born outside, but after weaning at around four weeks are raised indoors with no outside access.

Sow stalls / crates / gestation stalls

Designed to prevent aggression between sows, these metal enclosures of a minimum size of 0.6m x 2.2m are used to confine sows when pregnant. The sow can lie down but can’t turn around. Sows can be kept in stalls for all or part of their 16-week pregnancy, but by 2017 this will be reduced to a maximum of six weeks. However, the pork industry is talking about phasing out sow stalls completely by 2017.

Farrowing crates

These cages are designed to force the sow to lie down slowly so the piglets aren’t crushed. At a minimum size of 0.5 x 2m, the sow can stand but is unable to turn around. Sows are confined from about a week before giving birth until the piglets are weaned at about four weeks.

Ractopamine (brand name Paylean)

A substance used to build lean muscle that is banned in the EU, China and Russia. Coles recently banned its fresh pork suppliers from using ractopamine and will also extend the ban to all home-brand deli products by 2014.

The peak industry body Australian Pork says there’s no evidence ractopamine is dangerous to people, and that there is a rigorous system to ensure all pigs that enter the food chain are safe for human consumption.

Fresh vs. processed

It’s illegal to import fresh pork meat and pork with a bone into Australia due to the risk of disease, so all fresh pork and ham on the bone is produced locally.

About 60-70% of all bacon and ham consumed in Australia is imported frozen (mainly from the Netherlands and Denmark) and processed into bacon, soccer ball, shaved or leg ham, or used in processed foods. As a result you’ll often see “Made in Australia from imported and local ingredients” on the packaging.

To buy completely Australian-grown meat, look for “Product of Australia” or “100% Australian Pork”.


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