Dear awesome-reading-friends of placescases.com!
Have you ever felt a nasty smell when you eat pork chops, although the meat is fresh? It happens to me very often. And I’ve wondered why I’m the only one on the table who can feel it. It is also a reason to choose rarely pork meat from the menu of restaurants. I dug into the Internet, read a lot of materials and decided to share what I learned with you.
It turns out there are other people like me, and that’s genetically embedded in us. Studies have been conducted to ascertain that the culprit of a lack of good understanding between our olfactory organ and pork is the OR7D4 gene. This gene gives us sensitivity to the so-called androsterone, also called boar taint. It is a hormone that is excreted only by male pigs and because of it the meat has a breath after cooking, even though it is fresh. This is the reason to castrate the male specimens to prevent the excretion of this hormone, which makes the meat unpleasant for consumption. So only customers of the restaurants that cook game and more specifically wild boar may face the heavy smell.
So far so good, but not only androsterone causes the disgusting aroma in the steaks. It turns out that besides it, there is also a waste product from the processing of amino acids in the intestine, which also causes its appearance. It’s called scatole. Even if the pig is castrated, if there is poor hygiene in the farm or the pigs live very densely, after excreting with faeces, scatole penetrates back into the meat of the animal through its skin and becomes even more saturated and hence the smell strongly noticeable.
The issue about terminating surgical castration of animals, as traumatizing and painful for them, as well as resource consuming, has been posed for a long time now. From 1 January 2018 it is already banned throughout the European Union, including Bulgaria.
The question is, what do we do now with the delicious chops, ribs, bon fillets, meatballs, all those favorite to us dishes.
There are different alternatives to surgical castration that are used. Vaccines have been developed that reduce the production of androsteron, i.e. some kind of chemical castration is applied. There are also special feeding mixtures, which stimulate digestion of the food in the intestines, so that less scatole is accumulated. Other farmers control in a safe manner, through antibodies, the sex of the fetus in the pregnant pig, to give birth to female piglets. It also turns out that the levels of androsterone and scatole depend heavily on the breed of the animal. So, the selection of breeds also helps to reduce the excretion of androsterone.
Let us hope that in Bulgaria and EU in general are used the most humane and safest for people methods for eliminating the causes of the heavy smell of pork. But still, people like me with this specific gene and very high sensitivity of the olfactory organs will obviously continue to smell it if the steak is from male and even from female animal, whether it isn’t kept in good hygiene.
So whenever you read in my articles, that the pork has an unpleasant odor, it is already clear that this does not mean that the meat is old or spoiled, but that it is a matter of sex and hormonal activity of the pig, of its feeding conditions, of the hygienic conditions and let’s not forget about the consumer’s genetic code.
My personal recommendation to the restaurants that want to offer quality chops is to carefully select the suppliers/producers of pork meat, to inquire about the hygienic conditions in which pigs are kept, whether they are castrated by chemical means, originating from female or male specimens and finally, what feed mixtures they eat. It turns out that it is not an easy job to offer quality food- it depends not only on culinary skills of the chef, but also on the details of the products origin.
Photo: Appetizing board with pork prepared in several ways by the Ribs Brothers. You can read more about them here.