Supplementing broiler diets with conventional vegetable oils has little effect on the long-chain n-3 PUFA (LC n-3 PUFA) content of the meat.

The present study investigated the effect on fatty acid composition and sensory characteristics of chicken meat when broilers were fed oil extracted from soyabeans (SDASOY) that had been genetically engineered to produce C18 : 4n-3 (stearidonic acid (SDA), 240 mg/g oil).

Three diets were fed to 120 birds (eight replicate pens of five birds) from 15 d to slaughter (41-50 d). Diets were identical apart from the oil added to them (45 and 50 g/kg as fed in the grower and finisher phases, respectively), which was either SDASOY, near-isogenic soya (CON) or fish oil (FISH). The LC n-3 PUFA content of the meat increased in the order CON, SDASOY and FISH. In breast meat with skin, the SDA concentration was 522, 13 and 37 (sem 14·4) mg/100 g meat for SDASOY, CON and FISH, respectively. Equivalent values for C20 : 5n-3 (EPA) were 53, 13 and 140 (sem 8·4); for C22 : 5n-3 (docosapentaenoic acid (DPA)) 65, 15 and 101 (sem 3·5); for C22 : 6n-3 (DHA) 19, 9 and 181 (sem 4·4). Leg meat (with skin) values for SDA were 861, 23 and 68 (sem 30·1); for EPA 87, 9 and 258 (sem 7·5); for DPA 95, 20 and 165 (sem 5·0); for DHA 29, 10 and 278 (sem 8·4).

Aroma, taste and aftertaste of freshly cooked breast meat were not affected. Fishy aromas, tastes and aftertastes were associated with LC n-3 PUFA content of the meat, being most noticeable in the FISH leg meat (both freshly cooked and reheated) and in the reheated SDASOY leg meat.

Monsanto funded the study.