Boar taint is an unpleasant smell that can arise during the heating of pork. Boar taint can occurparticularly in meat of adult male pigs due to changes in the hormonal system when the animal is growing older. This may lead to a concentration and combination of endogenous substances in the body fat that can cause the different smell. Boar taint rarely occurs in female pigs or castrated male pigs. Meat products that are not heated will also not show boar taint.

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Causes of boar taint

Research has shown that there are three endogenous substances that can cause boar taint: androstenone, skatole and indole. Androstenone is a substance that is important in the development of the sperm cells in male animals. lawn mower reviews Skatole is produced during the degradation of certain amino acids in the body. Skatole affects both male and female animals. In male pigs incidentally three times more than in female pigs. Castration of male piglets lowers the concentration of Skatole significantly. Ultimately, it is the combination and concentration of androstenone, skatole and indole which cause -the extent of- boar taint.


The detection and prevention of boar taint is particularly complex. It’s not just about finding the concentration of substances but also how consumers perceive the smell and taste of these substances. These are not uniform. Research has shown that 30% of consumers is not sensitive to androstenone. Differences are also found between consumers in different countries.
That in turn can have various causes, such as a cooking method or getting used to a product.In recent years, much research has been conducted to gain insights into consumer preferences. That the level of androstenone, skatole and indole are influencing the smell is for sure. Other conclusions are not possible. Given the complexity of boar taint it must also be added that consumer taste can differ as well.

Preventing boar taint

In the world and also in Europe, the castration of male piglets is regarded as the most common method to prevent boar taint. After castration androstenone and skatole are virtually disappeared.
In recent years much research has been carried out to identify the causes of boar taint and the ways to prevent it.
Alternatives include:

  • Breeding management: the amount of androstenone and skatole is genetically determined. This means that breeding management and genetic selection provide longer-term perspective.
  • Modifying feed composition by adding inuline to the feed has proven to be an effective measure to reduce the skatole content in carcasses.
  • Immuno castration. By vaccinating male pigs, the growth of the testicles and hence the production of androstenone can be restrained. Opponents of this method point out that immuno castratation also interferes with the integrity of the animal.
  • Management measures on the pig farm. Research has shown that a lower level of skatole can be achieved with measures at farm level. Good examples are hygiene, housing and sufficient water and feed.
  • Detection in the slaughter line. During the slaughtering process controls are carried out by heating the fat and to check for an abnormal odor. This prevents the meat with boar taint to reach the consumer. The meat is not destroyed but used for products that are not heated like sausages, salami, and ham.


Using the above mentioned measure, more and more major pork supply chains in Europe have succesfully adapted the practice of producing and marketing entire male pigs.


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 …

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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 …

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New detection method for boar taint

At the ICoMST 2017 conference in Cork Ireland Claus Borggaard and his colleagues from the Danish Meat Research Institute presented the At-line rapid instrumental method for measuring the boar taint …

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A human nose scoring system for boar taint and its relationship with androstenone and skatole

Meat Science, August 2012, A human nose scoring system for boar taint and its relationship with androstenone and skatole, Mathur PK, ten Napel J, Bloemhof S, Heres L, Knol EF, Mulder HA.


Date: 07-09-2018

Boars on the way

The five-year Dutch research program ‘stopping the castration of piglets’ was started in 2009. The research results have provided important directions for solutions. The scientists involved have gradually unravelled the consumer response to products from entire male pigs, which is important for the appropriate use of detection methods. We have also identified the factors that determine successful boar management on the farm. Although still some challenges remain to be solved, we are convinced that we are on the right track towards a more sustainable production and marketing of pork products. This report summarizes the knowledge gained up to the present.Further information can be found in the reports of various studies, to which reference is made in the text. We hope that sharing our knowledge with experts throughout the member states of the European Union contributes to the ambition of stopping piglet castration.

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Date: 14-12-2013

Alcasde final report 2010


Date: 07-09-2010

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Waited too long

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