Hate the smell of pork? It could be in your genes

Some people pick up a strange scent from pork.
Photo / Thinkstock
Some people pick up a strange scent from pork. Photo / Thinkstock

Some people are sickened by pork saying it smells like sweat, urine or even faeces, and scientists say this could be genetic.

Previous research has found people who pick up a strange scent from pork, called androstenone, or "pork taint", have two copies of gene OR7D4.

The latest study, published in PLoS ONE, asked 23 people - 13 consumers and 10 professional sensory assessors - to smell samples from three bottles. One had androstenone and the other two had water. They were asked to pick the strongest smelling bottle, Medical Daily reported. A dozen sensitive and 11 non-sensitive participants were picked.

They were asked to sniff pork samples with different levels of androstenone. They found people who had two copies of OR7D4 picked up a bad smell from the pork, confirming the earlier conclusions.

In New Zealand, America and Europe pigs are castrated - meaning the concentration of androstenone is quite low, said Hiroaki Matsunami, associate professor of molecular genetics and microbiology at Duke University Medical Centre, and the study's co-author.

"The only time you find a high concentration of androstenone is when you eat wild bore meat," he told ABC news.

Director of Monell Chemical Senses Centre in the US, Gary Beauchamp, told Medical Daily this is a clear example of how people smell differently, and some of this comes down to genetics.

"When food is in your mouth , odours come from the back of the throat up to the nose," he said.

"Taste is very complex. It depends on smell and other factors such as personal experiences and genetic background."

- HERALD ONLINE

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