FacultyNewsSciencePublicationsJobs and educationBusiness cooperationContact

Athletes to benefit from pig research

When a pig is slaughtered, some of the tasty juices drain out of the meat. As much as eight per cent of the total weight of the pig disappears directly into the drains at the slaughterhouse. At the Department of Food Science at the University of Aarhus, researchers intend to do something about this.

They have investigated if the shrinkage can be reduced by feeding creatine to the pigs a few days prior to slaughter. Creatine is a compound that occurs naturally in muscles in the form of creatine and is used as an energy boost for the first few seconds of intensive work. If there is a high level of creatine in muscles when pigs are slaughtered, it can reduce the amount of meat juice lost after slaughter.

In the investigation pigs were fed creatine for five days prior to slaughter. To a certain extent this had a positive effect on the losses of meat juice from the carcass, but the effect was pig breed dependent. Without creatine in the feed, the Duroc breed had only minor losses after slaughter, whereas the Landrace breed suffered large losses. If the pigs were fed creatine, the losses were further reduced from the Duroc breed, but not from the Landrace. This means that not only are there genetic differences that determine the extent of meat juice losses, but also differences in pigs’ ability to utilize the creatine.

In athletes, creatine is used to give an extra energy boost to muscles in connection with, for example, fitness training. It is a well-known phenomenon that not everyone gets the same benefit from creatine. When scientists – with pigs as models – achieve a better understanding of how creatine affects fluid losses, this can help to both curtail meat shrinkage and explain why athletes react differently to the compound.

For further information please contact:
Senior scientist Jette Young, Department of Food Science, Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aarhus, telephone: +45 8999 1168, e-mail: [email protected].

Tuesday 20 February 2007 | Communication Unit