ALTERNATIVE TO PIG CASTRATION: A FAST, ROBUST AND CHEAP METHOD FOR THE ANALYSIS OF MOLECULES CAUSING BOAR TAINT IN PORK FAT

Thirty-eight percent (38%) of the meat production world wide comes from swine, which makes it the most eaten meat. But, did you know that without a control on the levels of certain molecules contained in pig fat, pork would taste off – way off?

This taste/odor, called boar taint, is the result of an accumulation of androstenone, skatole and indole in pork fat. This phenomenon begins at puberty and is caused by testicular steroids inhibiting their breakdown by the liver. Archeological evidence has shown that pig castration has been long used to avoid boar taint, amongst other reasons.

Although humane alternatives are available to pork farmers, most still castrate piglets at around one week of age, with little to no anaesthesia. Therefore, in 2010, the European Union came to the decision that starting in 2018, pig castration would be phased out. Since only 20% of pigs are affected by boar taint, a simple detection method of these molecules coupled to a GO-NO GO approach is desperately needed.

Thanks to the Luxon Ion Source®, we were able to develop a fast, cheap, automated and simple preparation method of back-fat analysis, coupling the ion source to a Shimadzu LCMS-8060 mass spectrometer. For more information on the sample preparation, download our new application note.

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