Meat processing companies, such as slaughterhouses, work hard on methods to prevent meat with boar taint reaching consumers. Discovering boar taint involves the detection of the substances that cause boar taint: androstenone, skatole and indole. For this purpose, several analytical and sensory research methods have been developed.
Analytical methods focus on the measurable amount of substances by taking a sample of each animal, and to monitor the chemical composition on androstenone and / or skatole. If the level of androstenone and / or skatole passes a certain threshold, it is a case of boar taint. In Denmark, amongst others, spectrophotometry is used in the slaughter line to detect skatole.
Sensory methods make use of the human senses. For example, the human nose in order to determine boar taint. A piece of meat is heated after which a trained inspector smells the meat. In the Netherlands, several slaughterhouses successfully work with this HNS-method (Human Nose System).
An important issue is whether the measurement of androstenone and / or skatole is sufficient and reliable to determine boar taint. Important factors in the detection methods are reliability, costs, and the speed of the controls.
Gold standard: the consumer
The opinion of consumers about the quality of meat always comes first. For the pork meat sector the consumer is the gold standard according to which everything is tuned. Optimizing animal welfare is important for European consumers and therefore for the pork producers. Quality is largely determined by taste and smell. It is why in Europe a lot of time and money has been spent to unravel the complex issue of boar taint and to develop solutions.