Plant based strategies to improve the nutritional value of beef for the consumer (PROBEEF)


The overall objective of the project is to investigate key factors influencing the delivery of beneficial lipids from plants through to beef muscle. The project will investigate the potential for breeding perennial ryegrass varieties with a higher content of n-3 PUFA. Beef production experiments will then investigate the effect of increasing the levels of n-3 PUFAs in the cattle’s diet on the fatty acid composition of beef, shelf life and sensory attributes of the meat.

Why is it important?

Although the consumption of beef in the UK is continuing to rise, the UK beef industry has to compete in a global market. It is therefore, more important than ever that beef is produced more efficiently and the end product is more customer focussed. Increased health consciousness among consumers has led to a growing preference for healthier, more nutritious and more functional foods.

The impact of enriching the n-3 PUFA content of beef on atherosclerosis (a major cause of heart disease in man) will be assessed as the project seeks to demonstrate the positive effects of improving the nutritional value of beef.

How does the project work?

There are 5 parts to this project;

  1. Assess the degree of variation in fatty acid composition of perennial ryegrass.
  2. Examine interactions between plant components and events in the rumen which determine the ability of different plants to manipulate the fatty acid composition of beef.
  3. Investigate the ability of plant-based feeding strategies to produce beef with an enhanced content of beneficial fatty acids.
  4. Assess the impact of plant-based feeding strategies on meat quality: fatty acid composition, colour shelf life and sensory attributes.
  5. Assess the effect of nutritionally-enhanced beef on plasma lipids and lipoproteins and the development of atherosclerosis.

Who is doing the work?

The work is being done at IBERS at Aberystwyth University, the University of Bristol and the University of Nottingham.

This project is linked to a much larger EU funded project entitled ‘ProSafeBeef’ which will examine the role that forage can play in modifying the fatty acid composition and quality of beef and the resulting effect on health in man.