Don’t bother trying to highlight issues of cruelty to animals in the Australian pork industry through some of the nation’s mainstream magazines – that’s the message Animal Australia got when they tried to place a series of ads in magazines like Marie Claire, Good Weekend and Delicious last week.

The reason? The confronting nature of the ads. Appearing in the format of a recipe, one reads:

After birth, ensure piglet’s only contact with mother is through metal bars. Within the first week of its life, surgically mutilate piglet. Snip off tail and cut eye teeth without administering pain relief. Ignore screams. Forcibly remove from mother after 3 to 4 weeks and stuff into crowded pen. Marinate indoors for entire life. Serves 4.

Apparently that was too confronting for readers a view Glenys Oogjes, Executive Director of Animals Australia, tells Crikey she understands.

“I think that animal welfare does upset people greatly. If people knew how pigs were kept in the factory farm industry in Australia they would be upset. Our difficulty is getting that issue to the public. But in having our paid advertisements rejected, that means the ignorance about the condition pigs are kept in will be maintained.”

Interestingly, it was the magazines one might describe as editorially “softer” than Marie Claire or Good Weekend which chose to run the ads – Woman’s Day and the Australian Women’s Weekly. While they should be applauded for their editorial courage, questions need to be asked about why Marie Claire et al felt the need to protect their readers from the advertisements. Crikey contacted those magazines but was unable to get a comment prior to publication.

The other player in this story is Australian Pork Limited (APL), the representative organisation for Australian “pig producers” which spends around $800,000 annually on promoting the pork industry. As you’d expect, there’s a healthy enmity between Animals Australia and APL, but APL denies putting any pressure on magazines to reject the ads.

“From Australian Pork’s perspective, we’ve had no communication or contact with those publication outlets. We’re not aware which ones have chosen for their own reasons not to run this advertising,” a spokesperson from APL said, before adding: “I imagine they are not running the ads because they are misrepresentative of the industry at large.”

But the issue is not about to go away: following the magazine rejections, the ads turned up in newspapers over the weekend.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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