Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh
One More Reason To Eat Lamb On Australia Day
Victor P Taffa
Victorians now have another reason to love their lamb this Australia Day, as new research reveals the secret to boosting the meat’s healthy qualities.
Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said scientists from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) had achieved a world-first by increasing the healthy omega-3 fatty acids in lamb meat.
By adding a small amount of a natural algae supplement into a moderate quality ryegrass and clover hay diet, scientists dramatically increased long chain omega-3 levels in the lamb.
Mr. Walsh said the development was a win-win for both Victorian producers and consumers.
Victoria is Australia’s largest prime lamb producer, and Victorian sheep meat producers exported around 121,000 tonnes of lamb and mutton in 2009/10, worth $616.3 Million.
“Studies have shown that half of Australians aren’t consuming enough long chain omega-3 fatty acids in their diets.” Mr. Walsh said.
“These particular fatty acids are essential for growth as well as brain and eye development, and are linked to reducing the risk of heart disease, arthritis, depression and dementia.”
“There is no better reason to throw some lamb on the barbecue this Australia Day.”
The DPI scientists fed the lambs 20g of a dried algae supplement daily over eight weeks and found a 240 % increase in healthy omega-3 fats in the lambs’ muscle compared to those eating a moderate quality ryegrass/clover hay diet.
A 135g serve of meat from algae-supplemented lamb provided 129 mg of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which is more than the minimum daily recommended amount for women and 80 % of what’s required for men.
DPI senior research scientist Dr. Eric Ponnampalam said the research results were just the beginning and DPI would continue research in conjunction with its partners to improve the productivity, profitability and competitiveness of lamb meat.
“We will continue to investigate the best forages and supplements to increase productivity and optimum lamb nutrition for high quality lamb meat.” Dr. Ponnampalam said.