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Genetic and technologies advances for improving and controlling oleic acid deposition in iberian cured hams

The goal is to design methods based on genomics and advanced technological control of fresh meat, to develop specific genetic pig lines that can reduce the productivity gap between industrial lines and iberian pigs, standardizing and improving the deposition of oleic acid in the iberian cured ham.

Duroc x Iberico and pure Iberico pigs are valued in the world for the sensorial quality of their fresh meat and dry cured meat products (mainly cured ham, shoulder, and loin). The Iberian product market is dominated by whole cured joints or sliced products with low industrial volume production and uniformity. Traditionally consumers have accepted the high price and lack of uniformity of cured Iberian pig products considering their relationship with autochthonous breeds, the natural environment, and traditional processes. Iberian pig meat produced extensively is one of the most expensive in the world. But these principles are antagonistic to large-scale industrial production of deboned, sliced, and packaged cured Iberian products. The general problem this project tackles is the high production cost and low uniformity of Duroc x Iberico pigs destined for the industry of sliced and packaged cured products manufactured at high volume and marketed in the modern distribution chain. The main objective of this project is to design strategies based on genomics and advanced technological control of fresh meat to improve and standardize the deposition of oleic acid (C18:1) in the Iberian cured ham. The Iberian ham is a product with high intramuscular fat content and this fat is rich in unsaturated fatty acids. In this sense, oleic acid may exceed 50% of the total fatty acid composition of the intramuscular fat, and plays an important role in the sensory quality of the final product, while having contrasted positive effects on health. Currently no company has achieved any genetic selection of pigs on oleic acid deposition, and this achievement could improve product quality and reduce production costs by reducing feed cost while ensuring high levels of oleic acid in the meat. Also, no company classifies its fresh hams individually by oleic acid content, which would increase the uniformity of the final product. To achieve the general objective of the project, we have established two intermediate technological objectives: 1) Developing a genetic method that improves the fat quality of Iberian pigs destined to sliced cured products by developing genetic markers related to oleic acid deposition; 2) Designing technology based on ultrasound and near-infrared spectroscopy transmittance to automate the control of fat and oleic acid deposition in fresh Iberian ham. As consortium leader, INCARLOPSA (dedicated to the production of cured products) established a need to create a new genetic product with high deposition of oleic acid in the fat, and a new technology to classify automatically and individually fresh hams from Iberian pigs according to their fat and oleic acid content. GENUS (dedicated to the production of pig genetics) and CAROMETEC (dedicated to manufacturing technology for classification of fresh meat) are involved in the project with the development of new products, while meeting the requirements established by INCARLOPSA. Thus, INCARLOPSA acts as first client demonstrator, and allows GENUS and CAROMOTEC to develop new contrasted products while increasing their portfolio, and market volume. At the end of the project, INCARLOPSA will get increasing uniformity and a competitive price for cured and sliced Iberian products. The overall project has to be split in two projects due to its length. The first project will take 3 years, and starts in October 2014 and it has 2 activities: 1) Developing a Duroc x Iberico cross based on genetic markers related to high oleic acid deposition, and 2) Developing a technology for fresh Iberian ham classification by fat content. It has 5 experimental tasks: 1.1. Determining the effect of genetic polymorphism of terminal male sire on the technological quality of Iberian pig destined to cured and sliced ham, 1.2. Modeling the deposition of oleic acid according to the genetic profile and the age at slaughter of Iberian pig, 1.3. Development of a marker-assisted selection program for Iberian pig destined to cured and sliced ham, 2.1. Design of ultrasound classification technology for Iberian pig carcass by fat cover, 2.2. Design of a technology based on near-infrared transmittance for the classification of Iberian pig hams by fatty acids profile. The second project will focus on the validation of the crossbreeding and the industrial scaling of the classification technology as well as developing other related markets.
Acronym: 
GENOLE
Project ID: 
9 590
Start date: 
01-07-2015
Project Duration: 
36months
Project costs: 
1 820 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Food quality and safety
Market Area: 
Animal Husbandry

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