Dead pigs boiled in a large pot: investigation on a PDO farm with journalist Giulia Innocenzi

Simone Montuschi

A report by journalist Giulia Innocenzi was published exclusively for the newspaper Fatto Quotidiano, to which we contributed by accompanying her inside a PDO pig farm in the province of Reggio Emilia.

A few months ago, we received a report of an illegal and very macabre practice which we confirmed in subsequent inspections. On the farm in question, the carcasses of pigs — both piglets and adults — that had died prematurely were boiled in a large pot until they were liquefied. Thanks to our complaint, the NAS unit of the Carabinieri – responsible for the protection of public health – quickly intervened and caught the farmer in the act. The carcasses and the pot were confiscated, while the perpetrator was denounced and fined in the region of 10,000 euros.


But what our investigation helped to reveal doesn’t stop there. According to the findings of the carabinieri, the liquid and liquefied boiled meat were dumped into the tanks where the wastewater is collected. This means that they could have ended up in crops through fertilisation.

Graphic images Click to watch
These carcass boiling operations lasted from 2 to 3 days, depending on the size of the animals.
© Essere Animali

Illegal practices yet again

Boiling animal carcasses is an illegal practice. Pursuant to Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009, carcasses not intended for human consumption are considered ‘animal by-products’ and must therefore be stored in suitable cold rooms and disposed of as soon as possible by sending them to incineration or co-incineration plants.

This is also confirmed by Dario Buffoli, former ATS veterinarian, in the video made by Innocenzi: “Animal carcasses must be collected by an authorised company and transported to an incinerator, because they are particularly hazardous waste and regular disposal prevents the carcasses from transmitting potential pathologies.”

Giorgio Micagni, AUSL veterinarian who participated in the checks together with the NAS, explained that many years before the current legislation entered into force, the farmer had participated in an official trial that involved the use of the pot. However, at the end of the trial, the farmer should have stopped using it.

The absence of checks allowed the practice to continue, however, but on this farm the vigilance should have been more active. The farm in question in fact belongs to the PDO circuit, so the meat of the pigs raised is used for the ‘premium products’ of the Made in Italy label. The farm is also a beneficiary of European funds: in the years 2019 and 2020 alone, it received more than 90,000 euros.

In addition to this illegality, Buffoli points out the critical condition of the animals “that does not respect the reference legislation”, adding “The pigs live in overcrowded enclosures, are covered in manure, live in the dark and have very little room to move.” According to Micagni, “the regulations have made some progress but there is still some hypocrisy, as a pig over 150 kg must have 1 m² of space at its disposal. We need more space for fewer animals.”

Here you can see the journalist Giulia Innocenzi and Simone Montuschi, the president of EA, inside the enclosures – adjacent to the pot – where the pigs were fattened.
© Essere Animali

More checks needed

Once again, our investigative work has revealed an illegal practice on a farm of the PDO circuit. It is disconcerting that it is mainly animal rights associations that document the irregularities occuring in these places, although it is evident that these are not exceptions. For some time now, we have been asking Parliament and the Government for a comprehensive reform of the laws on the protection of animals which, among other things, establishes a system of checks on farms, during transport and in the slaughter phases that is far more effective than that adopted so far.

In the meantime, we will continue with our investigative work, also thanks to the reports by private citizens who discover illegal practices such as this.