Date: 04-27-12 23:43
This is a great post. I worked on a commercial project to produce beef containing polyunsaturated fats some thirty years ago. The fats of all ruminants which include cattle and sheep are saturated and hence they are considered to be harmful. It was found that any polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower oil when fed to ruminants become hydrogenated to become saturated as they pass through the rumen. Work carried out by the CSIRO (Australia) showed that by encapsulating the sunflower oil with a plastic material, the sunflower oil will pass through the rumen unscathed and capsules will only break down under acid conditions in the fourth stomach, the abomasum releasing the unsaturated sunflower oil. By feeding encapsulated sunflower oil to cattle, beef with polyunsaturated fat can be produced.
As a research chemist, I was involved in the sunflower encapsulation process. In the project, we sucessfully produced polyunsaturated beef, milk, butter, cheese etc and they were test marketed for over the year. Unfortunately, the project was technically a success but commercially a failure. Basically, the process was too expensive as the beef had to be sold at a premium. We had no difficulty in selling the choice cuts at premium prices but the remainder had to be sold at normal prices.
In view of my previous experience, I am thrilled that China has made a breakthrough in cloning transgenic sheep with 'good fat'. If the industrialisation of this cloning process is successful, the sky is the limit. Since cattle is also a ruminant like sheep, there is no reason why transgenic cattle cannot be similarly cloned. This suggests in the future, cardiologists might recommend that we eat more red meat and that will be a revolutionary change to our lifestyle !!