New detection method

To meet consumer demands for high quality pork it is necessary to sort out pig carcasses containing a high concentration of the two compounds that are the cause of boar taint: skatole and androstenone.

DMRI is focusing on methods and technologies for efficient production of safe meat products of high quality at competitive prices. Therefore they have developed and validated a method for the simultaneous measurement of skatole and androstenone in back fat samples from entire male pigs. This method fulfils pre-defined demands for accuracy, speed and low cost. The method is currently in the process of being implemented.

The method also makes it possible to determine the level of boar taint compounds in e.g. a subsample of entire male pigs delivered to the slaughterhouse with the aim of investigating differences in boar taint compounds according to breed, producer, feeding regime etc.

Read more on the Danish Meat Research Institute, or view the DMRI slaughterhouse guide to the production of entire male pigs.

Read more about detection methods on our topic page.

Promising new boar taint detection method

A new boar taint detection method, developed by the Danish Research Meat Institute DTI, detects boar taint in a quantitative and objective way. It determines skatole and androstenone levels, and provides feedback to the farmers regarding these levels. More compounds, such as medical residues and pesticides, can be added to the method.

The method uses laser and ionization techniques to quantify the skatole and androstenone levels. The measurements take place at the slaughterhouse and have to be analysed in the lab. Currently, the system is being implemented at a Danish slaughterhouse.

Read more about boar taint detection methods on our topic page or have a look at the presentation of Susanne Støier, Bruxelles 2019 for more details: Boar taint detection

New detection method for boar taint

Full research


Workshop on boar taint detection

On 15 March 2017 a workshop takes place on boar taint detection in Göttingen (Germany) . The workshop ‘Train the trainer’ is organized by Isi GmbH. The workshop provides the basis for the successful implementation of a human sensory quality control system. The basics for the origin and effect of odor adjustments in boar meat are taught as well as explained how humanized examiners can be trained and used for the reliable detection and evaluation of odor and tasteless deviations. The workshop will take place on 15 March 2017 in Göttingen. Click here for more information about the workshop and here for the press release.

Sensory quality of boar taint: an interesting thesis

The thesis contains a.o. the following interesting information.
History about pig castrations: One part of the thesis contradicts the widespread opinion which maintains that pig castration has always been used to prevent off-odors. A closer look at the history and genesis of castration provides a better understanding of past needs and demonstrates that these differ from the needs and practices of current livestock systems.

Practical implications for a sensory quality control system of boar taint: What needs to be done to set a quality control, is summarized in an easy to understand graphic.

The concerns about pig castration have led to changes in European law and will most certainly have lasting effects on the production chain.
As a result, such invasive procedures have come under increased scrutiny. Animal welfare considerations aside, scientifically there is no doubt about pain during castration without anesthesia. Moreover, the castration procedure itself is a time-consuming task for the farmer. The last argument is productivity: from an economic and food supply perspective, castrated pigs are actually less productive than boars and produce a lower percentage of lean meat. These facts shed light on why there is a growing interest in the fattening of entire males. The occurrence of an off-odor in the fatty tissue of boars continues to hinder the widespread raising entire boars. Depending on its severity, the so-called boar taint is an unpleasant olfactory perception which can be recognized when heating pork. Current literature and reports often reveal a discrepancy in the number of tainted carcasses reported in scientific literature and abattoir data.

Knowledge is lacking on how to implement a sensory quality control of the so-called boar taint. Even though there are chemical analyses able to detect the major causative compounds, androstenone and skatole, there is no affordable automated technique available at the moment which can simultaneously detect both compounds at the slaughter line. To control the occurrence of boar taint, practical implications for a sensory quality control of boar carcasses are needed. This highlights the need for research in sensory methods which apparently are indispensable for quality control.

The objectives of the present thesis were: 1) to develop methods which allow objectively characterizing the olfactory acuity of human assessors in terms of major boar taint compounds, 2) to assess methodological aspects of a sensory quality control of boar fat in regard to sample preparation and the test environment, 3) to re-assess the relationship between chemical boar taint analysis and sensory evaluation in a large scale study, and 4) to establish a framework for evaluating the performance of sensory quality control.

More information (German or English)

Campig Boar taint research in Russia and China

The research program on ending castration of male pigs by Wageningen UR Life Sciences is accepted

1) sensory evaluation of meat from entire mail pigs
2) preventive measures to reduce boar taint prevalence
3) accuracy of detection for boar taint and
4) the relationship between farm management characteristics and levels of mounting and aggressive behavior of boars.

The program was financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Product board for Meat. The (English) paper is published at the homepage of NJAS-Wageningen Journal of Life Sciences.

Click here for the paper.