Background/Aims: Muscle antioxidant status and meat colour can be affected by nutritional background. This study aimed to compare the effect of 3 different diets on muscle vitamin E (vitE) concentration and the retail colour of meat given the importance of colour to consumers.
Methods:Lambs (n = 41) were fed for 8 weeks either a lucerne-based diet (37 mg/kg of vitE) or a grain-based control (CON; 42 mg/kg of vitE) or supranutritional vitE (SUP; 285 mg/kg of vitE) diet. Loin muscle samples were assessed for vitE and retail colour. Data was analysed using the REML and MANOVA procedures.
Results: Lambs fed the SUP diet had a higher muscle vitE concentration (5.1 mg/100 g meat; p < 0.001, SED = 0.44) compared to CON (2.5 mg) or LUC (3.4 mg). A MANOVA of the 3 dimensional colour attributes L*, a* and b* found that meat from the lambs fed LUC was redder (higher a*) and lighter (higher L*) than meat from lambs fed CON or SUP (p = 0.016). After 4 days of retail display redness (a*) of the loin for the LUC fed lambs tended to be higher (p = 0.08) than loin from the other groups.
Conclusions: Although the SUP group had greater muscle vitE status, the lucerne-based diet maintained retail colour of meat better than the vitE supplemented grain-based diet. It seems bioavailability of vitE or other antioxidants was greater for lambs fed the lucerne-based diet.
Funding source(s): Australian Meat Processor Corporation and Victorian Government (DEDJTR).