How to Conform If you read the Specification – it becomes apparent that in order to qualify, the producer must meet two basic standards:
Firstly, the pigs must be produced from pedigree Gloucestershire Old Spots (GOS) parents and must themselves be ‘Birth Notified’ the first stage in pedigree registration. Part of that process is that they must be properly and permanently earmarked so that they can be identified at every stage.
Secondly, they must be raised to standards agreed and specified which ensure that they cannot be factory-farmed. The high welfare standards ensure that pork carrying the breed name and TSG logo will reassure the consumer that not only is the meat from pedigree GOS pigs but has been raised to the highest standards, many of which are more demanding than those used for the RSPCA ‘Freedom Foods’ scheme and others.
The Gloucestershire Old Spots Pig Breeders Club (GOSPBC) has drawn up a system to police and certify producers who can so label their produce after inspection. Please be aware that it will have no hesitation in reporting anyone to the authorities who does not comply with the standards.
Downloads and Resources
Details of the Conditions and Charges for anyone considering applying for approval TSG charges and conditions can be downloaded here.
If you decide to proceed, an Application Form for inspection TSG Inspection Application Form can be downloaded here.
Food-standard labels suitable for use on packaging in fridges and freezers (left) can be ordered online by Approved Producers and Retailers only. Click here.
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Why was it necessary to apply for a TSG?
As far ago as 1999, the Club’s committee started the process of applying for the TSG mark. They recognised two things.
Firstly, there was renewed interest in the GOS breed thanks to the high eating quality of its pork. On several occasions in the breed’s history, it has come close to extinction. The marketing of its meat to a niche market of people who appreciated high quality food had helped to secure a revival in its numbers since the late 1980s. This would inevitably arouse the interest of the mass retailers who were unlikely to accept the standards that would ensure that numbers of pedigree pigs increased to levels of safety.
Secondly, although other rare and traditional breeds also boasted of high eating quality meat, the GOS had a very marketable name that would push it to the top of the list of breeds ripe for such exploitation. Indeed, in the last couple of years the Club has spent a great deal of time and effort persuading a major supermarket and others from marketing so called GOS produce from cross-bred stock.
The GOS has proved itself time and time again in repeat sales of its produce to a discerning, niche market. The TSG and certification can only help to enhance this reputation and increase sales at the upper end of the market.
We recognise that we are open to criticism by ensuring that GOS pigs are always to be farmed in non-intensive conditions. Critics have already pointed out that this will always leave the breed as a ‘minority’ breed, never able to compete for the mass market. Yet, the breed throughout its history has never competed with the likes of Large Whites and Landrace and more recently highly developed hybrids that supply the majority of pig meat eaten in Europe. Indeed, it was partially because the GOS breed could not adapt to factory farming techniques that it became so rare that when the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) first began in 1973 it was one of the first breeds recognised with only around 100-120 registered breeding females and 80% of those were in just one herd based in Worcestershire. Had that herd ceased to exist for any reason, the remaining numbers were barely viable to ensure the breed’s continuity.
The award of the TSG provides the Club with the tools to ensure the integrity of the breed’s produce when it reaches the consumer and this, in turn, should ensure that breeders who meet the requisite standards can achieve a premium for their produce that will help to keep them in business.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. My pigs are all Gloucester Old Spots but aren’t registered. I have always sold my pork as Gloucester Old Spot and my butchers label the meat the same way. Why can’t I continue doing this?
A. Unregistered GOS pigs cannot qualify to use the TSG certification. Furthermore, since January 2009, unregistered pigs cannot be sold as ‘GOS produce’ at any level according to LACORS, the body that advises Trading Standards Officers at local authorities so you may not label produce as GOS, nor can your butcher or any of his catering customers.
Q. I produce meat that meets the requirements and look forward to finding out what I need to do to be ‘approved’. However, I sell my produce at a Farmers Market and another stall also sells meat labelled as ‘GOS’ although I don’t think they have any registered pigs. What can I do about it?
A. Report the details of where and when the meat was on display so labelled to your local Trading Standards Office and ask them to investigate it against the LACORS interpretation of 30th January 2009.
Q. Our local pub sells Traditionally Farmed Gloucester Old Spot Sausages and Mash although I don’t know where they get them from. Is this allowed?
A. They may well be sourcing the meat from someone who meets the standards but equally they may not. Please report full details to the Club (email@example.com) with the name and address of the pub and when they were on offer and we will follow it up and if necessary report it to Defra as a possible infringement.
Q. Our breeding stock is all pedigree but we don’t bother to birth notify litters because they are going for meat, not breeding. It is expensive and time-consuming doing the paperwork and tattooing their ears. Why can’t we just carry on as we are?
A. If you don’t birth notify and earmark your litters, you certainly cannot be considered for TSG approval. The LACORS ruling means that in order to be able to sell meat, sausages etc. as ‘Gloucester Old Spot’ it must be the produce of registered pedigree parents and the easiest way to demonstrate this conclusively is to birth notify and tattoo your pigs. That way the carcase coming back from the abattoir will still show the tattoo providing positive identification right through to the point of butchery.
Q. Having read the EU document, we seemingly meet the specification in every way except one as our pigs are housed on slatted floors. Could we not have a derogation to allow us to label our meat in our own farm shop as ‘Traditionally Farmed Gloucester Old Spot’?
A. The specification was designed to ensure that the GOS breed could not be exploited and part of that was to outlaw pigs on slatted floors for welfare reasons so, the answer is ‘no’. If you can adapt to meet the specification with new floors, then please apply to the Club for approval when you can enjoy the benefits of marketing TSG-approved produce.