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Nutritive value and sensorial qualities of ruminant meat

INRA Prod. Anim., 15(1), 37-52.


1 INRA, Unité de Recherches sur les Herbivores, Theix, 63122 St Genès Champanelle

2 INRA, Station de Recherches sur la Viande, Theix, 63122 St Genès Champanelle




Ruminant meat is an important source of nutrients and is also of high sensory value. However, the importance and nature of these characteristics depend on ruminant nutrition. The first part of this review is focused on biochemical and dietetic value of this meat. It offers a panel of quantitative and qualitative contributions, especially through its fatty acids characteristics. Since saturated and trans-monounsaturated fatty acids are considered as harmful to human health, their amount in muscles can be reduced by increasing the proportions of dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) absorbed by the animals. On the contrary, some fatty acids (n-6 and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid) specifically incorporated in muscle tissues would play a favourable role in the prevention or reduction of major diseases in human (cancers, atherosclerosis, obesity) and therefore be recommended. The second part of this review treats different aspects of the sensorial qualities of meat. Skeletal muscle structure and its biochemical components influence muscle transformation to meat and sensorial qualities including tenderness, colour, flavour and juiciness. This paper shows how nutrition can influence, in ruminants, metabolic activity as well as muscle structure and composition, and thereby affect meat quality.

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