The utility and attractiveness of adipose tissue within meat products vary based on species, cut, and consumer preference. In beef, producers are rewarded for producing carcasses with greater visual marbling at the 12th and 13th rib juncture, while pork producers are either not rewarded or penalized for producing carcasses with too much adipose tissue. Some consumers prefer to purchase leaner meat cuts, while other consumers pay premiums to consume products with elevated fat content. While no clear consumer adipose tissue preference standard exists, advances in beef and swine nutrition have enabled producers to target markets that enable them to maximize profits. One niche market that has increased in popularity over the last decade is manipulating the fatty acid profile, specifically increasing omega-3 fatty acid content, of beef and pork products to increase their appeal in a healthy diet. While much research has documented the ability of preharvest diet to alter the fatty acid profile of beef and pork, the same studies have indicated both the color and palatability of these products were negatively affected if preharvest diets were not managed properly. The following review discusses the biology of adipose tissue and lipid accumulation, altering the omega-3 fatty acid profile of beef and pork, negative fresh meat color and palatability associated with these studies, and strategies to mitigate the negative effects of increased omega-3 fatty acid content.
- Fatty acid