News 2847 views last update:Jun 22, 2007

Anaesthetics do not solve piglet castration issue

Dutch supermarkets are reasoning too simply when they say that they will not sell any meat that is from male piglets that have been castrated without the use of anaesthetics.

This is the opinion of the Dutch agri- and horticultural organisation LTO Nederland, after the supermarkets jointly revealed they will phase out sales of this kind of meat as from 2009.

LTO says that not selling is not a real solution for the problem - apart from the question whether it is possible in practice to castrate without the use of anaesthetics.

No castration
Annechien ten Have, an LTO spokeswoman for the pig industry, says that the producers rather had not castrated at all.

Ten Have has doubts whether European pig producers will be able to meet the supermarkets' specific requirements in the year 2009. As up to now, only in Norway, male piglets are castrated with sedation.

Detecting boar taint
She referred to a current European research, to investigate the possibility to detect boar taint in carcasses at the slaughterline.

However, in Denmark, already €70 million has been spent in the development of a production line having an electronic nose for boar taint detection. German supermarkets abandoned the initiative when they found out that consumers stayed away because they were not satisfied.

Last week, the organisation of supermarkets CBL said that it was old-fashioned to make piglets suffer like this.

There is also still ongoing research to the possibility of the use of anaesthetics before castration. Ten Have says that there is a danger that sedating is only easing the consumers' conscience without providing a real solution.

Many big companies, like HEMA and Unilever, and certified butchers have announced to join the supermarkets' initiative.

Related news items:
• Sedated castration: €0.012/kg cost rise (19 June 2007)
• End to sale of pigs castrated without sedation (15 June 2007)

Related websites:
• Dutch Agri- & Horticultural Organisation (LTO; in Dutch)
• HEMA (in Dutch) 
• Dutch Central Bureau for Victualy Trade (CBL)
• Unilever 

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