AS ALWAYS, Woolworths has rushed to the front of the line and declared the introduction of sow-friendly pork products. As from the end of September the food and clothing retailer plans to sell fresh pork that is sourced from farms that no longer use stalls to restrain pregnant sows.

A sow crate is a metal enclosure used in commercial pig farming, in which a female breeding pig may be kept during pregnancy, and in effect for most of her adult life.

“Kind to Sows” stickers will be used to highlight this change. By the end of December, the stickers will be found in products such as bacon, boerewors and sausages.

Woolworths’ competitor Pick n Pay has also made progress in expanding its free-range pork products.

The retailer previously said under the free-range pork protocol, pigs were free to roam in dry-sow units and the only time the sows were subjected to any form of enclosure was during the farrowing phase to prevent injury to their newly born piglets.

Pick n Pay said this after its name was included in a distasteful advertisement that appeared in the Mail & Guardian.

The advert showed a photo of pregnant pigs trapped in sow crates, which was compared with the treatment of Jews in concentration camps.

The furore drew attention to the treatment of pigs on farms, and the pork industry promised that sow crates would be phased out by 2020.

Besides Pick n Pay’s tarnished image creating public awareness, the retailer said it believed no other retailer was moving faster on this issue than it was.

I guess this is a case of, “I was here first”, then.


Bring it on, say the committed, admittedly dying breed of smokers, who actually enjoy filling their lungs with tobacco smoke despite the well-intentioned and incessant advice to the contrary.

The latest agitation from the do-gooders and nanny-statists, who can’t go a day without sharing their wisdom and good intentions with the determined and recalcitrant puffers, is that they can’t wait to force cigarette companies to sell their products in plain packets by next year.

This is in the face of a last-ditch World Trade Organisation (WTO) investigation into Australia’s ban on tobacco branding, which New Zealand, France and India are also considering.

Opponents of the law, who say it is heavy-handed and an invitation to counterfeiters, had hoped other countries would hold off from following Australia’s example, pending the case addressing complaints by tobacco-producing nations.

The WTO put together a panel on May 5 to judge a dispute between Australia and tobacco lobbyists, who say the legislation is a barrier to trade and restricts intellectual property. As well as its huge importance for the global tobacco industry, the case could have implications for other sectors, as some public health advocates see potential for plain-packaging laws to extend into areas such as alcohol and unhealthy foods.

But our generally well-regarded Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who is determined to act in everyone’s (including smokers) best interests, can’t wait to deprive smokers of the tiny pleasures they get from their favourite branding.

The fact is that dedicated smokers have accepted the loss of those often lavish cigarette ads and carried on regardless. We are not talking about kids who are best advised not to start, but the truly, and happily addicted. Plain-paper packages or grim medical pictures won’t make a difference.

Here’s a tiny protest for Motsoaledi from a committed smoker, who by the way proudly pays for all his own health care, so far not needed: just get on with whatever you think you need to do and turn down the sanctimonious noise. It is a lot more irritating than a life-affirming morning cough.

Is the anti-smoking campaign really about helping smokers live more healthily, or is it that you get your kicks telling others how to live their lives?

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Peter DeIonno and Sapa.