Flat Earth: Tender chops

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THE Los Angeles commission might well have added another caveat to its recommendations: don't smack your pig. Grahame Coleman, an animal scientist at Australia's La Trobe University, says pigs hate having their rumps slapped. The practice, common among farmers moving them from pen to pen, can apparently cause chronic stress reactions similar to those experienced by, well, capitalist pigs.

Furthermore, Mr Coleman says, pigs are such sensitive creatures that they pine when misunderstood. Friendly pats and strokes make them feel good - and also increase the size of their litters.

Patrick Morel at Massey University in New Zealand says it is in the interests of farmers to treat their swine properly. Pigs which are under stress before slaughter, he warns, simply do not produce quality bacon or pork chops.