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Steve Dunkley

Head of Knowledge Exchange (Interim)

AHDB Pork KE

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Reduction of backfat skatole through dietary means

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Sponsors: Premier Nutrition, Bowes of Norfolk

Research partners: AHDB Pork Pork Chain Unit (University of Bristol)

Project duration: 2007 – 2009 

Aims and objectives

  • This study investigated the effects of a commercially available dried chicory product (Fibrofos 60) fed for a short time before slaughter on concentrations of boar taint compounds in backfat and on the sensory response to cooked fat.
  • The aim was to establish dietary levels and feeding periods that could reliably reduce boar taint.
  • Since inulin changes the bacterial population in the gut and has been shown to encourage the proliferation of ‘friendly’ bacteria at the expense of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, the impact of feeding Fibrofos on gut bacteria has also been measured. 

Findings

  • Overall the results show that under the conditions of this trial, chicory was effective in reducing skatole but not boar taint
  • It is surprising that the sensory perception of boar taint was not reduced because most data shows that skatole is the taint compound most closely associated with boar taint
  • In other pigs, with lower concentrations of androstenone, the result may have been more positive for pork odour and flavour
  • The estimated cost of Fibrofos 60 is around £3 per pig; it seems difficult to justify this cost based on the current results
  • The microbiological results showed a tendency for chicory to reduce levels of the bacterial group Enterobacteriaceae which includes Salmonella, E coli and other pathogenic bacteria
  • Low levels of Enterobacteriaceae are indicative of a healthy gut as are high levels of lactic acid bacteria, this group showing a trend to increase when chicory was fed. 

Further information

Download Final report – Effect of dietary chicory on boar taint and its impact on Salmonella counts in the pig intestine