The technology to enrich ground beef with omega-3s is a spinoff of flaxseed research Drouillard began in 1998. Drouillard and his students studied flax for several of its omega-3 fatty acids that may suppress inflammation and reduce diabetes in cattle. Research showed that omega-3 levels dramatically increased in the cattle as more flaxseed was introduced into their diet.
Keeping the omega-3s from becoming saturated fats in cattle's digestive system is a challenge, however. Microorganisms in the rumen -- the largest chamber in the cow's stomach -- modify most of the ingested fats and turn them into saturated fats. This causes ground beef to have low levels of omega-3s. Christian Alvarado Gilis, a doctoral candidate in animal sciences and industry, is researching how to improve omega-3 levels in cattle diets to further enhance the fat profile of beef. Gilis is from Chile.
According to Drouillard, substituting omega-3 fatty acids for saturated fats does not change the ground beef's flavor.
"Knowing that there are a lot of desirable flavor characteristics associated with the fat in beef, we performed tons of sensory panel tests with Kansas State University's meat science faculty and with the department of human nutrition throughout the years to ensure that the flavor is not compromised," Drouillard said. "We found that our panelists were never able to detect appreciable differences in the flavor profiles of the omega-3 rich beef and non-omega-3 beef, even though the fats are quite different."
The owners of NBO3 Technologies LLC have worked closely with Drouillard in developing the concept, and after more than a decade of research on improving the enrichment process, have started to distribute omega-3 enriched ground beef to retailers and food vendors.
The ground beef is part of the company's line of omega-3 enriched foods, which includes pork, chicken, cheese, milk, butter and ice cre
|Contact: Jim Drouillard|
Kansas State University