Effect of a dietary supplementation with linseed oil and selenium to growing rabbits on their productive performances, carcass traits and fresh and cooked meat quality

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Since the industrial revolution, particularly in the last 150 years, a rapid change in human diet has been observed. Nowadays, Western diets are characterized by an increase in energy, saturated fat, omega‐6 and trans fatty acid (FA), cereal grain and a decrease in omega‐3 FA, complex carbohydrates and fibre, fruits and vegetables, protein, antioxidants, vitamins (especially C, E and D), trace elements and calcium (Simopoulos, 2008). The optimal ratio of omega‐6/omega‐3 FA varies from 1/1 to 4/1, but in the Western diets, this ratio is much higher (over 15/1; Simopoulos, 2008). The beneficial health effect of omega‐3 FAs, mainly C20:5 n‐3 (EPA) and C22:6 n‐3 (DHA), relates to low rate of coronary heart disease, asthma, hypertension, type 1 diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, obesity, dry eye disease, age‐related macular degeneration, mental health, multiple sclerosis and many cancers. Moreover, DHA is essential for the normal functional development of brain and retina, particularly in premature infants (Simopoulos, 2011). According to Zhang et al. (2010), selenium (Se) deficiency in humans is associated with compromised immune function, resulting in increased susceptibility to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, muscular dystrophy, diabetes, arthritis, stroke, cataracts and other diseases.
As humans today live in a nutritional environment that differs from that for which our genetic constitution was selected, functional foods aim to decrease the gap between the Western diet and the genetically determined demands. Rabbit meat itself is very healthy, being poor in fat, cholesterol and sodium and rich in PUFA, mainly in n‐3 FA. However, with targeted specific feeding, its nutritive value can further be improved (Dalle Zotte and Szendrő, 2011). In the literature, most studies dealt with the FA profile, Se or vitamin contents of raw meat, whereas limited studies considered also cooked (or differently heat‐treated) meat which is what people indeed consume (Kouba et al., 2008; Dalle Zotte et al., 2014). Several papers have been dealing with diets supplemented with PUFA n‐3 (Dalle Zotte and Szendrő, 2011), but limited number of papers have been published in relation to the optimal duration of feeding supplemented diet (Szabó et al., 2001; Bianchi et al., 2006; Gigaud and Combes, 2008; Maertens et al., 2008; Valencak et al., 2015) and about the effect of cooking (Castellini et al., 1998; Dal Bosco et al., 2001; Tres et al., 2010) on the nutritional characteristics of the fortified meat.
On the basis of the above‐mentioned considerations, the objectives of this study were (i) to determine the optimal feeding time interval needed to produce a functional rabbit meat, derived from a dietary supplementation with linseed oil and selenium with special focus on the fatty acid profile and n‐6/n‐3 FA ratio (ii), to examine live performance and carcass traits of the animals to evaluate the technical effects of the supplementation and to examine (iii) the effect of two different heat treatment methods on the amount of vitamin E, Se and on the FA profile of cooked meat, compared to the raw one.
The preliminary results of the experiments were published in the proceedings of the 10th World Rabbit Congress (Matics et al., 2012; Szendrő et al., 2012).
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