In order to have their pork sold in all Swiss supermarkets, Swiss pork producers can most probably only choose one method to prevent boar taint: using isoflurane anaesthetics.
At a meeting, organised by the Swiss Veterinary Office at February 13, all relevant parties from producers to retailers once more tried to find a solution how to resolve the problems around the approaching ban to physical piglet castration without anaesthetics. As from January 1, 2010, this practice will be banned in Switzerland.
Several years ago, a special commission called ProSchwein was installed in Switzerland, containing representatives from all relevant parties in the food chain, to evaluate alternatives to this practice. Several different solutions have been looked at.
In June last year, ProSchwein suggested three different options: castration using isoflurane anaesthetics, entire boar finishing or a vaccine to control boar taint.
The majority of the union of pig producers – producers, vets and consumers favoured having these three options available. Retailer Migros and processor Micarna, however, continue to be hesitant towards the latter two, whereas supermarket chain Aldi is indifferent to the developments. Only the supermarket chain Coop Naturafarm sells meat from vaccinated pigs.
The meat industry has therefore offered to set up a fund for the purchase of the anaesthetic devices in order to facilitate matters for the producers. The Swiss pork producers, united in Suisseporcs, reluctantly appear inclined to consider this proposal.
Using anaesthetics is still considered to be a temporal solution. All parties involved would like to create a proper plan for the future to reach boar finishing. A date of January 1, 2010, was named as date for the start of castration using anaesthesia, but this is considered to be very ambitious.
The principle of boar taint vaccination, through a double vaccine injection, allows male piglets to grow mature without physical castration. The male pig however does not develop large testicles, hence the development of boar taint is not encouraged.
Switzerland is the first country in Europe where the vaccine has been introduced. The vaccine has already been introduced in quite a number of other countries around the globe, in e.g. Brazil, South Africa, Australia and Mexico.
Read more about castration in Europe in this article, Pig Progress 24.08.