Boar taint is an unpleasant odor or taste that many consumers would notice if they cooked or ate pork from male pigs that had reached puberty. It has been compared to the smell of urine, feces and sweat. Boar taint most often occurs in pork from male pigs that were not castrated. Most male pigs today are castrated, preventing the presence of boar taint in pork, although there are a few countries (UK, Ireland, Australia and others) where the practice is not routine and instead male pigs are normally slaughtered at a young age.
Controlling boar taint is necessary for pork producers, as studies show that boar taint causing compounds are likely to be detected by consumers1. This makes the presence of boar taint an important meat quality issue that could have a major impact on pork consumption if not controlled.
Why boar taint occurs
Boar taint is caused by the accumulation of two substances – androstenone and skatole – in the fat of male pigs. Male pigs naturally produce these compounds when they sexually mature. Over time, if these natural compounds build-up, they become noticeable when the meat is cooked. In order to avoid the accumulation of these compounds, male piglets are castrated.
Diretor Associado, Desenvolvimento Global
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Sensitivity to boar taint
Studies show that many consumers are sensitive to boar taint so it is necessary for pork producers to control it. Women appear to be more sensitive than men and some ethnic groups also seem to be more sensitive than others. Boar taint is prohibited by food quality regulations in most countries.