A study was conducted to investigate the effects of a synthetic or natural antioxidant and fat saturation, in a standard feedlot diet, on fatty acid composition and oxidative stability of lamb. The four dietary treatments consisted of the same basal diet providing 187 g crude protein (CP), 355 g neutral detergent fibre (NDF), and 71 g ether extract (EE) per kg dry matter (DM), differing in fat source (30 g/kg of either saturated beef tallow or unsaturated soybean oil) and type of antioxidant included (125 g/t of either a synthetic or natural antioxidant). Eighty four S.A. Mutton Merino lambs weighing 27.6 ± 1.7 kg were divided into four groups and randomly allocated to four dietary treatments (n = 21 lambs/treatment) subdivided into 7 replicates/treatment (n = 3 lambs/replicate). After an adaptation period of 8 days, all lambs received complete diets for a further feeding period of 41 days. At termination of the study, seven lambs per treatment, weighing 45.1 ± 3.0 kg, were randomly selected and slaughtered. Loin chops from each carcass were used for fatty acid, colour (a* values) and thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) analysis. Meat colour was determined on days 0 and 7 after being stored at 4 ºC under fluorescent light. The malonaldehyde content per kg meat was determined on days 0, 7 and 90 after being stored at -18 ºC in the dark. It was found that dietary treatment had no effect on colour stability as depicted in a* values. The malonaldehyde content per kg meat was higher on days 0 and 90 for the unsaturated soybean oil treatment. Beef tallow inclusion resulted in an increase in palmitoleic acid, where soybean oil inclusion resulted in an increase in linoleic and α-linolenic acids in both lean and subcutaneous fat tissue. Natural antioxidant inclusion in the diet only increased the palmitoleic acid content of subcutaneous fat. The results suggested that the fatty acid profile of lamb meat can be favourably manipulated by the source of fat included in the diet.
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