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News Article

Kangaroo Meat Contains High Conjugated Linoleic Acid Levels

The meat of Australia’s bush kangaroo may be a rich source of the healthy fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a University of Western Australia and CSIRO sponsored PhD student has discovered. She found the meat-fat of the Western Grey kangaroo in some circumstances has up to five times higher CLA content than lamb.

The meat of Australia’s bush kangaroo may be a rich source of the healthy fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a University of Western Australia and CSIRO sponsored PhD student has discovered. She found the meat-fat of the Western Grey kangaroo in some circumstances has up to five times higher CLA content than lamb.

CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is found in dairy products, beef and lamb. In animal experiments, CLA has been shown to possess potential anti-carcinogenic and anti-diabetes properties, in addition to reducing obesity and atherosclerosis. Research has been directed at boosting CLA levels in milk and meat by, for example, feeding special diets. The transgenics industry is also researching ways to boost CLA.

In collaboration with the University of Adelaide, Clare Engelke compared CLA levels in Western Grey kangaroos and lambs from the Badgingarra region in Western Australia and analysed tissue samples of other Western Greys, Red and Eastern Grey kangaroos from different areas of Australia.

Although kangaroos are not a true ruminant, Ms Engelke became interested in researching Australia’s national icon because, like ruminants, kangaroos ferment food in their foregut. CLA is produced by microorganisms in the guts of ruminant animals such as sheep and cattle during the digestion process.

In Australia, kangaroo meat has traditionally been used for pet food but the European market for the meat grew by 30 percent following the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease. CSIRO Project Leader Dr Andre Wright said kangaroo meat was very lean with a two per cent fat content. "Kangaroo meat also has high levels of protein, iron and zinc," Dr Wright said.

Ms Engelke is now working to identify the bacteria in the kangaroo’s foregut responsible for producing CLA and to find out why kangaroo meat appears to be the highest known source of CLA. If she is successful, it may be possible to increase the CLA content of other meats and products to increase potential health benefits to consumers.

Contact: Andre-Denis Wright Molecular Biologist CSIRO Livestock Industries, Private Bag 5, Wembley WA 6913, Australia
Tel: + 61 8 9333 6417
Email: Andre-Denis.Wright@csiro.au

Source: CSIRO

Article details

  • Date
  • 05 May 2004
  • Subject(s)
  • Awaiting Classification (2)