Marks & Spencer has hit out at criticism by animal rights group Viva! that its pork comes from sows kept in 'cruel' farrowing crates.

The retailer said it was disappointed Viva! had sent Heather Mills McCartney into its Oxford Street branch to present a Mothers Day card with the slogan 'this is not just torture, this is M&S torture'. "We met and told Viva! before Christmas that we were phasing out the use of farrowing crates," said a spokeswoman. "This is an industry-wide issue and we are at the forefront in continuing to improve animal welfare standards."

Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA praised M&S animal welfare.