SASSARI, Italy—Lamb meat may enhance the fatty acid profile of commercial baby food, according to a new study published in the Journal of Food Science. The findings may be especially important in regions of the world, such as Italy, where use of lamb meat as a weaning food is common during infancy.
Lamb meat, when used in the weaning diet of children, is presumed to have a lower allergenicity than other forms of red meat. In children with atopic dermatitis and multiple food hypersensitivities, consumption of lamb meat has also resulted in significant clinical improvements in the severity of the eczematous lesions. Lamb meat also provides a somewhat unique fatty acid (FA) profile that mirrors what is thought to be optimal for neonatal growth and development.
Researchers in Italy compared the fatty acid profile of fresh meat from suckling lambs with those of homogenized (HO) and lyophilized (LIO) baby foods prepared primarily with lamb meat. The results show that the content of total omega-3 polyunsaturated FAs was the highest in fresh meat (more than 3-fold) compared to commercial baby food, due to largely higher contents of α-linolenic acid (1.5-fold higher), eicosapentaenoic acid (6-fold higher), and docosahexaenoic acid (10-fold higher). Furthermore, arachidonic acid was more than 6-fold higher in fresh meat compared to LIO and HO.
The results suggest the possibility of enhancing the fatty acid profile of commercial baby food based on meat by using lamb meat, but care should be taken during processing so that important fatty acids are not lost.