Improvement of pork tenderness is particularly important to increase consumer satisfaction. The myoﬁbrillar proteins and intramuscular connective tissue collagen are components of muscle that are known to affect meat tenderness. The amount of collagen, the extent of collagen cross-linking and the types of collagen could inﬂuence meat texture. Lecithin has anti-ﬁbrogenic effects as it reduces hepatic collagen accumulation in liver ﬁbrosis. It was suggested that dietary lecithin might reduce pork chewiness and hardness and it could be associated with decrease of collagen content and extent of cross-linking. Hence, it was hypothesised that dietary lecithin could decrease pork chewiness and hardness through reducing muscle collagen content. Lecithin is also an emulsifier and it increased pork polyunsaturated fatty acid content. However, little is known about the effect of dietary lecithin on other aspects of carcass and meat quality. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of varying levels of dietary lecithin at doses of 0, 4, 20 or 80 g/kg fed (higher than the lecithin levels used in the previous reports) to finisher gilts for six weeks prior to slaughter on growth performance, carcass quality, meat quality and muscle collagen content. Thirty six Large White×Landrace finisher gilts an average weight of 55.9±2.2 kg were randomly allocated into individual pens. The diets were (i) control diet; (ii) soybean lecithin at 4 g/kg of commercial finisher diet; (iii) soybean lecithin at 20 g/kg of commercial finisher diet; and (iv) soybean lecithin at 80 g/kg of commercial finisher diet. All diets were formulated to contain 0.6 g available lysine/MJ of digestible energy (DE) and 14.2 MJ DE/kg. M. longissimus lumborum (loin) was removed from 36 pig carcasses at 24 h post-mortem for Warner–Bratzler shear force, compression, collagen content and colour analyses.
Dietary lecithin increased dressing percentage (P = 0.009). Pork chewiness and collagen content were decreased by dietary lecithin (P < 0.05), suggesting that improved chewiness may be due to decreased collagen content. However, dietary lecithin had no effect on shear force, cohesiveness or hardness.
The data showed that dietary lecithin decreased pork chewiness and this may be associated with the decreased muscle collagen content. Dietary lecithin also improved the dressing percentage and resulted in less pale pork.
Akit, H., Collins, C.L., Fahri, F.T., Hung, A.T., D'Souza, D.N., Leury, B.J. and Dunshea, F.R. 2014. Dietary lecithin improves dressing percentage and decreases chewiness in the longissimus muscle in finisher gilts. Meat Science 96; 1147–1151. doi.org/10.1016/j.meatsci.2013.10.028