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Ruminant fatty acids

In the project we want to change the fatty acid composition of ruminant lipids, and examine how to meet the population's nutritional needs for omega-3 fatty acids. We plan to enrich the “baby beef” and milk with essential omega-3 fatty acids.

In parallel with the abundance of food in Western society, is the increased frequency of chronic diseases. We have more and more scientific evidence that the problem is closely connected with too much food and unbalanced food consumption. Among the most frequent reasons for health problems induced by nutrition are too much energy in the diet, improper fatty acids composition of fats – especially too many saturated fatty acids, too few omega-3 acids, an imbalance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids (the WHO (World Health Organisation) 2003 recommendations are between 1:2 and 1:8, but in the Western diet the proportions are 1:20 or more) and a lack of some vitamins, especially antioxidants. In SLOVENIA and CROATIA, like in other EU countries, it is common that inhabitants consume more than half the daily needs (WHO recommendations are 50-60 grams of fats daily per adult man) with ruminant products – beef and especially dairy products. Therefore we will have a significant impact in the healthy nutrition field if we improve the fatty acid composition of beef and milk. In the project, we want to change the fatty acid composition of ruminant lipids, and examine how to meet the population’s nutritional needs for omega-3 fatty acids. We plan to enrich the 'baby beef' and milk with essential omega-3 fatty acids and reduce the ratio omega-6/omega-3. At the same time, we want to enrich these products with a very important antioxidant – vitamin E (alfa tokoferol) for a healthier population diet. We want to achieve these goals in a natural way, through animal nutrition. CROATIA has traditionally been the producer of 'baby beef'- meat from intensively fattened young Simmental cattle. However, it is well-known that beef is generally criticised for being too high in saturated and too low in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and thus potentially unhealthy for consumers. Moreover, the concentration of beneficial fatty acids in beef (omega or n-3 and conjugated linolenic acid) tends to be too low when beef cattle is feeding predominantly with concentrates based on corn or barely. On the other hand, diets rich in alpha linolenic acid (C18:n-3) such as grass or linseed increase the content of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in beef and beneficially reduce the n-6:n-3 ratio. The fatty acid profile of baby beef meat and its nutritive value in terms of fatty acids, in particular in terms of the n-3:n-6 ratio has not been investigated. However, it could be assumed that feeding baby beef cattle predominantly with corn grain silage will result in nutritionally less valuable meat. In this project, we will investigate the intramuscular fatty acid composition and other aspects of baby beef meat quality (colour, pH) and test the nutritional strategy for the production of beef which is healthier for the consumer by having a lower n-6:n-3 ratio. With this aim, in co-operation with the 'Baby Beef Breeders Association', we are planning to set up a dietary trial with young Simmental bulls and heifers. The animals will be fed by corn hybrids which will be selected for an advantageous n-6:n-3 ratio in oil. In addition, the linseed, as a rich source of alpha linolenic acid, will be included as part of concentrate feed. This will beneficially reduce the n-6:n-3 ratio in the diet and consequently in beef muscle. Assuming there is lipolysis and biohydrogenation of dietary PUFA in rumen, the lipid protection method (bypass lipids) will be developed and implemented. On the other side, SLOVENIA is predominantly a milk producer and less so a beef producer compared with CROATIA. Therefore in SLOVENIA, we will try to improve milk and consequently cheese fatty acid composition. Cheese is particularly interesting because of the high level of fat in it (approximately 30%). On the dairy farm near the town of Vrhnika we will implement nutritional experiments on dairy cows with pasture and specially prepared feed mixtures to improve milk fatty acid composition. On the same farm, we will test the production of omega-3 enriched cheese and will measure the impact of cheese production technology on fatty acid composition. The experimental feed mixtures for nutritional experiments will be prepared in the feed stuff factory JATA-EMONA in Ljubljana. The lipid protection method will be developed in cooperation with the Chemical Products Factory HRASTNIK. Chemical analysis of products will be performed in our laboratory in the Emona research and development centre. We will perform Weende analyses, gas chromatography for fatty acid composition, liquid chromatography for vitamin E analyses and rancimat for estimation of the oxidation level of feed mixtures and products. The last phase of the project will be a pilot project and placing products on the market. Keywords: enriched 'baby beef', enriched milk, omega-3, fatty acids.
Acronym: 
RFA
Project ID: 
3 983
Start date: 
01-01-2007
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
900 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Food Additives / Ingredients
Market Area: 
Food supplements/vitamins

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