With the wide acceptance of the long-chain (LC) n-3 PUFA EPA and DHA as important nutrients playing a role in the amelioration of certain diseases, efforts to understand factors affecting intakes of these fatty acids along with potential strategies to increase them are vital. Widespread aversion to oil-rich fish, the richest natural source of EPA and DHA, highlights both the highly suboptimal current intakes in males and females across all age-groups and the critical need for an alternative supply of EPA and DHA. Poultry meat is a popular and versatile food eaten in large quantities relative to other meats and is open to increased LC n-3 PUFA content through manipulation of the chicken's diet to modify fatty acid deposition and therefore lipid composition of the edible tissues. It is therefore seen as a favourable prototype food for increasing human dietary supply of LC n-3 PUFA. Enrichment of chicken breast and leg tissue is well established using fish oil or fishmeal, but concerns about sustainability have led to recent consideration of algal biomass as an alternative source of LC n-3 PUFA. Further advances have also been made in the quality of the resulting meat, including achieving acceptable flavour and storage properties as well as understanding the impact of cooking on the retention of fatty acids. Based on these considerations it may be concluded that EPA- and DHA-enriched poultry meat has a very positive potential future in the food chain.
(Online publication December 03 2009)