Prof. Steven Leeson from the University of Guelph Animal and Poultry Science, Ontario, Canada is leading an effort to enrich poultry meat with Omega-3 fatty acids. Previously he has been successful doing so with eggs.
Leeson has identified various poultry feed combinations that can be fed to chickens to add heart-healthy fatty acids to the animals’ meat, without affecting the taste of the meat.
The research is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
He’s found the poultry became sufficiently enriched with Omega-3 fatty acids after 10 to 14 days on a flax seed diet. At this stage, the nutrients build up in the body fat and, once present, are constantly reused in cycles for growth and energy.
Lesson is now balancing the amount of Omega-3 and DHA fatty acids in the enriched meat to make sure its enhanced nutritive quality doesn’t interfere with taste.
DHA is known to improve human visual and learning abilities, boost immune function and relieve symptoms of some psychological disorders and inflammatory diseases.
Leeson says adding fish oil to poultry feed gives humans who consume the poultry an alternative DHA source.
He predicts a market for nutrient-enhanced poultry meat in sales of whole chickens. Unlike most meat cuts that are too lean to store enough fatty acids, whole chickens contain much of the original fat content, which is where DHA and other Omega-3 fatty acids are stored.