The Meat and Livestock Commission this week upped the ante in the international controversy over pig welfare with the launch of a hard hitting campaign. The aim of the £4.6m ad campaign ­ jointly funded by the Ministry of Agriculture and the British Pig Executive ­ is "to drive home the welfare message behind the British Meat Quality Standard Mark for pigmeat". The MLC wants to persuade consumers to only buy pigmeat products that carry the Mark that appears on pork, bacon and ham. The first ad out of the stalls ­ which ran in the national and regional press on May 11 and May 12 ­ was deliberately controversial. It showed the picture of a sow with no room to move. The ad copy underneath claimed that in farms across the world pregnant sows are tethered, they are not given quality feed, and standards are not audited. If people don't want to support these practices, the ad tells them: Look after the farmers who look after their pigs. Only buy pork with this Mark.' Coming at a time when the pig industry is in deep crisis, the MLC said that the idea is to shock people and get them thinking about what the Mark means ­ and then follow up with softer ads in the next phase of the campaign. MLC retail trade manager Maurice McCartney said it was a question of "pushing it to the line but without going over it and alienating people". Stage two of the six month campaign, he said, would "provide consumers positive reasons to buy pork, bacon and ham bearing the Mark". Stage three would target housewives with pork recipes and pork meal solutions. {{P&P }}