14 January 2000

Fatty acids key to healthier pigmeat

NEW MLC work is seeking to find out whether pigmeat could be even healthier for humans when pigs are fed specific fatty acids which have health-giving properties.

Humans nutritionists are increasingly keen that people increase their intakes of omega-3 fatty acids which are said to protect against heart disease, says MLC meat scientist Kim Matthews.

"These fatty acids can be introduced into pigs by feeding fish oil. This can cause taint, and while this is reduced where high quality oils are used, this obviously increases costs."

Pigs themselves make long chain fatty acids, but researchers believe that supplying pigs with the correct balance of oils in their diet can encourage them to generate long chain oils without using fish oil.

"Linseed oil is one alternative being considered, and we are talking to the industry about feeding it to supply a niche market. Adding linseed oil to rations doesnt cost much, but could enhance the nutritional properties of pigmeat."

Some might argue that feeding unsaturated oils such linseed will increase rancidity risks, but Mr Matthews says there has been no problem with this. "Linseed contains natural anti-oxidants which could help offset problems," he adds. &#42