Why unpleasant aromas occur

As male pigs approach puberty, they begin developing two naturally occurring compounds that can cause an unpleasant aroma in cooked pork. This off odor is technically referred to as "boar taint." These natural off odors create no food safety issue, but need to be controlled to protect the quality experience of eating pork.

  • The two compounds are androstenone and skatole. They can accumulate in the fatty tissue of male pigs, and are released when the pork is cooked causing the unpleasant aroma.
  • Depending on age, breed and environment, as many as 50% or more of all intact male pigs produce pork that has a strong to moderate off odor when cooked.

The biology of off odors

Two compounds, androstenone and skatole, occur naturally in male pigs as they mature.  If not controlled, they can create off odors in cooked pork.