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Fat-Free Livestock
June 17, 2010   
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A team of researchers led by Prof. Bożena Patkowska-Sokoła at the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences has developed a method to reduce the amount of fat in livestock. This will lead to a better diet and fewer lifestyle diseases in humans, the researchers say.

The method is based on adding conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) from isomerized vegetable oil to animal feed. This makes it possible to reduce body fat in farm animals and the amount of fat in their muscles, according to the researchers.

Saying no to lifestyle diseases
Most animal fats have an unfavorable fatty acid profile, with a high content of saturated fatty acids. This can be a cause of many diseases, doctors warn. Isomers of CLA are believed to help prevent cancer and arteriosclerosis, slow down the development of diabetes and osteoporosis, and reduce body fat and triglyceride, total cholesterol and LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, levels.

Products containing CLA are already used by humans and are available in pharmacies. But the technology applied by Patkowska-Sokoła and her team relies on a different premise: products for people are obtained by transforming vegetable oils.

“Apart from minerals, our feed additive contains isomerized vegetable oils—with the same molecular formula but a different structural formula—with a high share of the conjugated form of linoleic acid,” Patkowska-Sokoła says.

Not as simple as that
In non-isomerized (natural) oils, the double bonds in the carbon chain are separated by a CH2 group, while in conjugated systems the double bonds are not separated. Such an isomer has a beneficial effect on human health, according to Patkowska-Sokoła. The substrate for producing this additive are vegetable oils, for example grape seed oil or sunflower oil, which contain linoleic acid. Linoleic acid is used to produce CLA.

“The essence of our method is the synthesis of the conjugated dienes (unsaturated hydrocarbons) of linoleic acid found in vegetable oils, namely trans-10, cis-12 and cis-9, trans-11 CLA, and using it as a feed additive in the nutrition of livestock,” says Patkowska-Sokoła.

The technological processing of the acids was performed by the Ignacy Mościcki Industrial Chemistry Research Institute in Warsaw. The result is an oil with a high concentration of CLA.

To enable easy use in animal nutrition, and to protect the unsaturated fatty acids in the additive from oxidizing, the product was sprayed onto Humokarbowit, a natural humus and mineral product with high sorptive capacity and antioxidant and bio-stimulating properties. This part of the project was carried out by the Tronina Trade and Implementation Company from Borowa near Wrocław.

Experimental tests were performed on three kinds of livestock: cattle, pigs and lambs. The meat of these animals was found to contain reduced amounts of saturated fatty acids and higher amounts of health-beneficial acids—conjugated dienes of linoleic acid and vaccenic acid (VA).

Lean meat is good to eat
Thanks to the new additive, the animals’ body fat decreased by between 13 and 38 percent depending on the animal and type of fatty tissue, and the fat content in the meat decreased by anywhere between 13 and 24 percent.

“Reducing the fat content of muscle tissue, what we call ‘hidden fat,’ is especially important because this fat cannot be removed during cooking, which means it is all consumed,” Patkowska-Sokoła says.

The results show that the feed additive can be used at farms that breed pigs, beef cattle, lambs, and goats, according to Patkowska-Sokoła.

The product won a silver medal at the 37th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva last year. It was also singled out for praise at last year’s IWIS international invention show in Warsaw. The scientists have also received an award from the Polish Federation of Engineering Associations (NOT) for their outstanding achievements in technology.

The additive was developed by a research team led by Patkowska-Sokoła and including Robert Bodkowski, Ph.D., from the Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Wiesława Walisiewicz-Niedbalska, Ph.D., from the Ignacy Mościcki Industrial Chemistry Research Institute in Warsaw, and Stanisław Tronina, Ph.D., from the Tronina company.

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