I love bacon. It’s so crispy and delicious. I thought nothing could put me off it, but then I watched Food Unwrapped (Channel 4, Monday 14 July, 8.30pm).
I’m not alone in my love for the sizzling stuff. Brits eat 200,000 tonnes every year, much of it from Denmark, which exports 90% of what it produces. So Jimmy Doherty visited Danish Crown, the “largest meat processing company in Europe,” to find out exactly how it operates.
“Incredible,” sighed Doherty, when told it ran 24 hours a day. Horrifying, more like. Up to 20,000 dead pigs swing along 11 km of conveyor belts every day thanks to a “constant stream of trucks” that deliver them to their fate. “This is the Death Star of pork factories,” gasped Doherty, referring to its size. But, just like the Death Star, it’s one big killing machine.
Within minutes of arrival, the pigs are knocked out by CO2 and hung upside down before throats are slit, blood is drained and their bodies are rinsed and shaved. Then robotic saws cut into their flabby chests and “all the guts and organs” pour out.
More than 25,000 people visit every year to see it all happen. We didn’t. “No, we cannot film it,” said factory manager Per Larsson, of the bit where they gas and “stick” the pigs. Could it be that intelligent animals, like pigs, don’t enjoy being lowered into gas chambers and make their feelings known before the gas finally takes effect and the knives come out?
“This policy protects the identity of the workers who slaughter the pigs,” clarified Doherty. Of course. Because in this building, it’s the workers that need protection.