PhD in boar taint

Most people perceive boar taint as unpleasant, but the degree to which we react depends on genetics. In her doctoral dissertation, Kathrine Lunde at Animalia has worked on developing a sensitivity method for identifying the boar taint component androstenone.

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Margrethe Hersleth

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The project has been a collaboration between Animalia, the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB), and Nofima.

It turns out that almost four out of 10 Norwegian consumers react to androstenone. Tests were conducted both with Nofima’s professional sensory panel and with ordinary consumers.

“The results show how important it is for the industry to test products by using both a trained panel and ordinary consumers, in order to learn more about consumers’ sensitivity to and acceptance of changes in product recipes,” says Margrethe Hersleth, Senior Researcher at Nofima Mat and Associate Professor at UMB.

Sensitive to boar taint
Boar taint is primarily associated with the components skatole and androstenone.

“Skatole is considered to be unpleasant by 99 % of the consumers, while the ability to detect androstenone varies and depends on genetics,” explains Kathrine Lunde.

The dissertation’s findings highlight the importane of determining whether someone is sensitive to androstenone or not, before he or she assesses meat with varying androstenone content.

The sensitivity method (for androstenone) that the project developed is highly correlated to the consumers’ DNA and their assessment of meat with varying androstenone content. The results presented in the dissertation show that around 39 % of Norwegian consumers were defined as androstenone sensitive after being tested with the new method.

Possible to conceal the taint
Using various processing technologies (dry-salted and fermented bacon) and common, strong additives (liquid smoke), higher levels of skatole were accepted by the consumers, and in general it appeared that skatole was easier to mask than androstenone.

In the work to develop this sensitivity method, Nofima helped to develop the method and carry out sensory tests, and also designed and carried out consumer tests, produced meat, and tested process technologies for these studies.

Consumer and sensory sciences  

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