Flax-Fed Cows: Increasing Polyunsaturated Acids in Beef

A few weeks ago, I visited Mike Dugan, meat lipid scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, to ask about feeding flax seed to pigs to increase omega-3s in pork, and thus diversify the consumer base.  But, one may ask, where’s the beef?

Well, a current study at the Lacombe Research Centre in Alberta is looking at feeding flax and sunflower seed to cattle in an attempt to increase polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in the meat. In the video below, Dugan explains the complexities of manipulating fatty acid content in beef, measuring fatty acid profiles and the potential for Near Infrared Spectroscopy in agriculture.

“In pork, what you feed is what you get in the tissues,” says Dugan, “but in beef, dairy and other ruminants, it’s a little different.”  The bacteria in ruminants actually hydrogenate polyunsaturated acids, which can create a multitude of new compounds.  Though the creation of undesirable fatty acids is evident, there are also some —including CLA, a known anticarcinogen — that hold great potential for the beef industry.”

If you cannot see the embedded video, click here.

 

 

Debra Murphy

Debra Murphy is a Field Editor based out of central Alberta, where she never misses a moment to capture with her camera the real beauty of agriculture. Follow her on Twitter

@RealAg_Debra

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One Comment

Richard Barrett

Very interesting! The CLA (Conjugated linoleic acid) is known as an anti carcinogen, this in layman’s language is a cancer fighter. I took note that Dugan mentioned that when flax feed with grain that the CLA is not as high. CLA in milk is lower when the cows are feed grain.

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