Animal welfare is crucial to both the pigs and the quality of the end product, that is why the European Union has put in place rigorous mechanisms to ensure that pigs are well cared for from the moment they are born until the slaughter.
The EU has established specific pig protection directives, laying down minimum standards for the protection of farmed pigs. These minimum standards include mandatory aspects for pork producers, including that pigs must always be free of hunger and thirst, minimum floor area available for the different rearing and fattening stages, among others.
The treatment of pigs during slaughtering will not only have an impact on their welfare, but also on the quality of their meat and therefore in the consumer. European Union legislation ensures that all animals are treated correctly and properly stunned before killing, to guarantee that they suffer the least possible amount of stress and pain.
This has a direct impact on meat quality and taste. When a pig is stressed before and during slaughtering, it will use up all the glycogen in its muscles, this will cause the carcass to have less amount of lactic acid and the meat will be less tasteful, less tender and with worse colour and quality. When the animal is well rested and calm, higher amounts of glycogen will be present in the meat, rendering a better quality meat.