Higher carnosine level in pork increases its health nutritional value and quality


Gariépy, C., Palin, M.F., Pomar, C., Goddard, E., Fortin, F., Sullivan, B., Binnie, M.A. and Young, M. (2017) Higher carnosine level in pork increases its health nutritional value and quality. Canadian Meat Council's 97th Annual Conference. Ottawa, June 5-7. Poster presentation and abstract.


Carnosine is a naturally-occurring molecule found in pork although probably below optimal level. The pH-buffering, antioxidant, metal-ion chelation and anti-glycation properties confer carnosine with many health-related benefits for conditions such as diabetes and its vascular complications and many age-related diseases and neurological disorders. Muscle fiber type is the most important determinant of carnosine content with nearly double amount being found in type II fibers which predominate in swine muscles of commercial importance. However, actual pork production practices may not support the optimal deposition in the muscles. In an ongoing research project aimed at identifying nutritional and genetic factors involved in carnosine deposition in swine, differences in muscle carnosine content were observed between breeds with Duroc having the highest levels when compared with Yorkshire and Landrace pigs (p<0.05). The large inter-individual variability observed in carnosine content (from 205 to 382 mg/100 g of tissue) confirmed the genetic potential to increase its deposition in pork. Additionally, higher carnosine content was associated with improved L* and a* colour values (p<0.05) and drip and cooking loss (p<0.05) indicating that the pig genetic background is a key determinant for muscle carnosine content. Polymorphisms in genes involved in carnosine deposition have been identified and could increase further the level in the meat. Dietary supplementation with different level of beta-alanine, the limiting amino-acid for carnosine synthesis, has linearly decreased (p<0.05) both protein and lipid oxidation in the meat. Increased carnosine level could differentiate Canadian pork from other food and change the entire health-related paradigm with meat consumption.