Several major participants in the European Union pork chain have agreed on a plan to voluntarily end the surgical castration of pigs in Europe by Jan. 1, 2018. As a first step, from Jan. 1, 2012, surgical castration of pigs shall be performed with prolonged analgesia and/or anesthesia.

A European partnership will be established in order to develop the tools necessary to reach the goals and to ensure that eventual costs are shared in a fair way. On the invitation of the European Commission and the Belgian Presidency, representatives of the European meat industry met in Brussels to discuss the issue of pig castration and its possible alternatives. The parties signed a declaration on alternatives to surgical castration of pigs, which sets the basis for the voluntary cooperation among the participants.

Castration of pigs is practiced to avoid undesirable sexual or aggressive behavior and the development of boar taint, the odor or taste that can be evident during the cooking of pork products derived from intact male pigs.

Alternatives to castration are already being applied in the EU and elsewhere, according to the European Commission. The declaration, the first of its kind at EU level for animal welfare, is an open invitation for participants in the EU pork sector to join the voluntary initiative.

Source: The European Commission