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Boar taint is an unpleasant, urine-like odour that can affect sexually
mature male pigs. Women appear to be more sensitive than men to its
odour and some ethnic groups also seem to be more affected than
others. Mind you, about 80 percent of boar pigs do not have taint and
about 25 percent of consumers can't taste it anyway.
Dean Romaniello is the livestock manager for Craig Mostyn, the
company that owns Linley Valley.
"I guess there's still a perception left over from the old days because
people tended to eat their pork older and boar taint was more prominent
in these more mature animals.
"But today we're selling lighter, younger animals grown quickly and
with better genetics and you simply don't get the same problems. The
industry has worked hard to make pork a more consistent product, week-
in and week-out."
Nevertheless, most large-scale pig farmers in WA restrict the sexual
growth of their male pigs, either by carrying out surgical castration or via
a vaccination called Improvac, which stimulates the male pig's immune
system to make antibodies against its own male tissues.
In essence, this stops the testicles developing so that the compounds
that cause boar taint are not produced.
At Linley Valley, they make no differentiation between girl and boy
meat in their domestic range of free-range and non free-range pork.
Hence if you buy Linley Valley pork from a supermarket, even if it's
free-range, there's no way of telling whether you're eating boy or girl
meat and, if it's the former, whether the pig has undergone surgical
castration or vaccination with Improvac.
If you'd rather avoid vaccinated pork, find yourself a butcher that sells
female pork. This shouldn't be too difficult, given that around 80 percent
of WA's smaller boutique butchers sell only female pork, believing them
to make for better eating. sm
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