18th July, 2006: GUELPH, CANADA - The egg may have come first for omega-3 enriched poultry products, but the chicken isn't far behind.
Steven Leeson, a professor in the Animal and Poultry Science faculty at the University of Guelph, has already enriched eggs with omega-3 fatty acids and is now leading an effort to do the same with chicken.
He has identified various poultry feed combinations that can be given to chickens to add heart-healthy fatty acids to the animals' meat without affecting flavour.
"Our challenge now is to help farmers produce this enriched meat efficiently, while maintaining quality taste," he says.
Leeson is balancing the amount of omega-3 and DHA fatty acids in the enriched meat. DHA is known to improve human visual and learning abilities, boost immune function and relieve symptoms of some psychological disorders and inflammatory diseases.
He predicts a market for nutrient-enhanced poultry in sales of whole chickens. Unlike most meat cuts that are too lean to store enough fatty acids, whole chickens contain much of the original fat content, which is where DHA and other omega-3 fatty acids are stored.