Manipulation of the fatty acid composition of pig meat lipids by dietary means

Colin A. Morgan*, Raymond C. Noble, Massimo Cocchi, Ruth McCartney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

118 Citations (Scopus)


Pigmeat products have been associated with an unhealthy image due to the relative proportions of polyunsaturated and saturated fatty acids. The aim of this experiment was to improve the fatty acid profile of the carcass fat by feeding various dietary sources of fat. Groups of 10 female Large While × Landrace pigs were fed one of four experimental diets. Five in each group were slaughtered at 70 kg live weight and the remaining five at 100 kg live weight. The diets were offered ad libitum and daily intake was recorded. The diets were based on barley, soya bean meal and fishmeal. Diet 1 contained 50 g tallow kg−1, a relatively saturated fat, and diets 2, 3 and 4 contained 50 g soya oil kg−1, an unsaturated fat. Diet 3 also contained 7.5 g GLA oil kg−1, which is rich in gamma linolenic acid, with the aim of increasing the production of arachidonic acid in the body fat. Diet 4 was supplemented with 9.5 g EPAnoil kg−1, which is rich in eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. There were no significant differences between dietary treatments in performance (daily liveweight gain or the efficiency of food conversion to liveweight gain) of the pigs slaughtered at 70 kg live weight, but small differences were observed at 100 kg live weight, where pigs on treatments 2, 3 and 4 performed slightly better than those on treatment 1. At both slaughter weights the lipid content of the m semitendinosus was higher than that of the m longissimus dorsi (approximately 24 and 13 g kg−1, respectively). The pattern of fatty acids in the dietary fat was reflected to varying degrees in the carcass fat. Diet 1 resulted in the highest levels of palmitic, palmitoleic, stearic and oleic acids whereas diets 2, 3 and 4 gave high levels of linoleic and linolenic acids. The extra gamma linolenic acid in diet 3 did not result in a consistently significant increase in the production of arachidonic acid. The supplement of EPAnoil gave significant increases in the levels of eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in the body lipids. The polyunsaturated to saturated fatty acid ratio of the body lipid was increased with diets 2, 3 and 4 to about 1.0. In spite of high levels of linoleic acid, there were no adverse effects during the processing of the carcasses and the taste panel evaluation did not reveal any treatment differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-368
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Issue number3
Publication statusPrint publication - 1992


  • diet
  • fat
  • fat fatty
  • health
  • Pig


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