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Manipulating the fatty acid composition of poultry meat and eggs for the health conscious consumer

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 September 2007

Pamela S. Hargis
Department of Poultry Science, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, The Texas A&M University System College Station, Texas 77843-2472, USA
Mary E. Van Elswyk
Department of Poultry Science, Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, The Texas A&M University System College Station, Texas 77843-2472, USA
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Consumer demand for food products of superior health quality has renewed interest in modifying the lipid composition of poultry meat and eggs. While work involving the reduction of the cholesterol content of poultry products has met with little success, dietary fatty acid modification has proved to be a viable method of adding value to poultry products for the health conscious consumer. Because of the association with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, recent dietary fat studies have centred on the manipulation of specific fatty acids, i.e. 20-carbon omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid 20:5n3, decosahexaenoic acid 22:6n3) found in marine sources. Seasonal availability, affordability and consumer preference often limit fish consumption, thereby excluding the primary source of 20-carbon omega-3 fatty acids. Enrichment of poultry meat and eggs with these fatty acids might provide an excellent alternative source. The omega-3 fatty acid content of both poultry meat and eggs can be readily increased by the inclusion of marine oils/meals in the diet. However, off-flavours associated with carcass and egg samples enriched in this way have prompted investigations into the use of terrestrial sources of omega-3 fatty acids. While effective in enriching meat and egg products with linoleic acid (18:3n3), plant sources result in only minor changes in the content of 20-carbon omega-3 fatty acids. Various methods of oil refinement and extraction, as well as alterations in production practices and the use of dietary antioxidants have been examined as ways to improve flavour quality and storage stability of omega-3 fatty acid enriched products. Continued investigation in the areas of sensory evaluation and product stability are needed if significant improvements in the health quality of foods available to the consumer are to be made.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1993

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