The effects of dietary manipulation of muscle long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (FA) on sensory properties of cooked meat in second cross ([Merino×Border Leicester]×Poll Dorset) wether lambs were evaluated. Lambs fed dietary supplements of fish meal (FM, Exp. 1) and fish oil (FO, Exp. 2) showed moderately (P<0.01) and markedly (P<0.001) increased muscle long-chain omega-3 FA content compared with those fed the basal diet of lucerne chaff and oat chaff. Protected canola seed (PCS, Exp. 1) significantly (P<0.001) increased omega-6 FA content of the longissimus muscle. In each of the 2 experiments (1 and 2), after being fed experimental diets for 6 weeks lambs were slaughtered at a commercial abattoir. At 24 h post-mortem (PM) the semitendinosus and bicepsfemoris muscles were removed from animals and stored at −20°C until evaluation of sensory properties using experienced panel members. The muscle samples were stored for 3 (Exp. 1) and 12 (Exp. 2) months then removed, thawed and cooked for sensory evaluation. The meat samples were cooked under standardized conditions in a convection microwave at 180°C (20–25 min) to an internal temperature of 75°C. Cooked samples were tested for flavour, aroma, juiciness and overall palatability. The significant increase in muscle long-chain omega-3 with FM (Exp. 1 and 2) and FO (Exp. 2) or omega-6 FA with PCS (Exp. 1) were not detrimental to sensory panel evaluations of flavour or aroma of cooked meat when compared with the basal diet. However, meat from FM (Exp. 1) had lower juiciness and FO (Exp. 2) had lower overall palatability. Protected sunflower meal protein with FO (Exp. 2) significantly lowered ratings for flavour, juiciness and overall palatability. Lamb meat with increased levels of long-chain omega-3 FA can be produced without altering the sensory quality (flavour or aroma) of the cooked meat.
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