4.2. Chemical Analysis
As explained above, the fat deposits of a chicken carcass come mainly from the diet, so that the lipid profile in these tissues reflect the lipid profile of the diet [14
]. The interactions that take place between the nutrients that compose the diet and the synthesis and activity of lipogenic enzymes are responsible for a wide range of possibilities regarding lipid deposition in adipose tissue. Moreover, the biological activity of some fatty acids stimulates or inhibits specific lipogenic genes encoding enzymes [15
The yields obtained for the lipid extraction in chicken fat by-products are markedly higher than the levels reported for chicken skin (<30%) [16
], the usual chicken fat source in the meat industry.
The fact that the lipid profile of chicken fat by-products from the 3 farms under study did not show differences is probably due to the stability of the feed used in each farm. Since the feeding and other farms’ routines were the same in all three farms, so that the only difference was their respective geographical location and climatic conditions, it seem safe to conclude that neither factor was important enough to modify this composition. This is very important because if chicken fat by-products are to be used as fatty ingredients in the meat industry, the greater the homogeneity in their composition, the easier it will be to formulate meat products.
The lipid profile of fat by-products was within the range reported in the literature for chicken skin fat (Table 3
] which was to be expected because the lipid profile of different chicken carcass parts (skin, adipose tissue and meat) does not any show statistical differences [20
Of other sources of animal fat commonly used in meat products (Table 5
), chicken fat by-products have the highest amount of unsaturated fatty acids (UFA, 65.5%) and bovine tallow the lowest (44–50%). It must be noted that the chicken fat by-products analysed in this study contained a higher proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, approx. 40% of total UFA) than pork or beef fat (has less than 20%). Unsaturated fatty acids include essential fatty acids that play beneficial roles in human health. Oleic acid may help decrease the circulating concentration of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in humans and is considered a “healthy” fat [21
]. High oleic acid values are desirable for their hypocholesterolemic action, and have the added advantage of not lowering high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), and protecting against coronary heart diseases [22
]. The essential fatty acids include the w3 and w6 families, which are not biologically synthetized by humans, but which are necessary for biological processes and therefore should be included in the human diet [23
By contrast, the highest saturated fatty acid (SFA) levels are found in beef tallow (46–55%) and the lowest in poultry fat by-products (30.2%). Taking into consideration that the high consumption of saturated fatty acids has been associated with increased levels of serum cholesterol and LDL, both risk factors for cardiovascular diseases [26
], using chicken fat by-products as fatty raw material in the meat industry could be considered advantageous. However, some studies suggest that the role of saturated fat in heart diseases is complex because of the heterogeneous biological effects of different saturated fatty acids and the diversity of food sources [27
], so that not all SFAs should be considered hypercholesterolemic. These findings suggest that the specific matrix of different foods, including other fatty acids, nutrients, and bioactives, may biologically modify the effect of saturated fat in cardiovascular diseases.
According to French et al. [29
] the most undesirable fatty acid is myristic acid, which only represents 1.3% in chicken fat by-products (Table 3
), 3% in beef tallow and 3.5% in pork backfat (Table 5
). Several authors have reported that palmitic acid has a low hypercholesterolemic effect and stearic acid has no effect because it becomes oleic acid in the body [30
] and so does not influence blood cholesterol levels.
These results suggest that chicken fat can be used as fatty ingredient in formulating sausages, for example, as a partial or total substitute of traditional solid fat sources with their higher SFA concentrations, or be used together with chicken skin, thus increasing the amount of useful fat that can be obtained from poultry [31
]. In addition, the high levels of UFA in chicken fat by-products could allow them to be used as frying oil as well as mixed with other solid fats to increase their plasticity.
4.3. Colour Properties
The colour of foods is the first characteristic that makes an impression on consumers and is one of the most intuitive factors influencing consumer purchase decisions [32
]. Contrary to what might be expected, pure fats and oils are colourless. The characteristic colours usually associated with some of them are imparted by foreign substances that are lipid-soluble and have been absorbed by these lipids. In the case of the fat from carcasses, the colour basically depends on the feed that the live animal received [34
]. In the case of chickens, when maize (rich in carotenes and xanthophylls) is included in their diet, the fatty deposits take on a yellow colour. Another factor influencing fat colour is the concentration of haemoglobin retained in the capillaries of the adipose tissue and also the connective tissue that is included [35
]. According to this author, mature adipose cells or adipocytes can easily reach a diameter of micron size and are almost filled by a single large droplet of triglyceride. Thus, the nucleus and cytoplasm of an adipose cell are restricted to a thin layer under the plasma membrane, which accounts for the low water content of fat. Mature adipose cells with very little cytoplasm contain few organelles. The large triglyceride droplet that fills most of the cell is not directly bounded by a membrane, but is restrained by a cytoskeletal meshwork of 10-nm filaments, which is most conspicuous in the adipose cells of poultry.
From a technological point of view, fat fulfils several functions in meat product processing (e.g., appearance, taste and textural properties) although, in the case of colour, its principal role is in the brightness of the resulting meat products. The colour coordinate values (L*, a* and b*) of the analysed chicken fat by-products are into the range reported by Sirri et al. [36
] for chicken skin. These authors measured the colour coordinates in the skin of different parts of the chicken carcass (breast, thigh and shank) and reported the following values: 65.8-81.7 for lightness, −3.75–7.52 for redness, and 7.45–39.12 for yellowness. These data point to high variability in skin colour, especially in the case of b*, even taking into account that the total xanthophyll content of the feeds used was homogeneous (from 12 to 15 mg/kg of feed) in the different flocks studied. This suggests that, in addition to pigment concentrations, other factors could play an important role in determining the final skin colour of poultry.
The observed reduction in lightness and the increase in yellowness due to melting (Table 4
) could be due to the reduction in moisture and the consequent increase in the concentration of yellow pigment (carotenes). Based on the differences in the reflectance spectra obtained for solid fat by-products, and melted and re-solidified fat (Figure 2
), it is clear that the heat applied to melt the fat caused severe changes in its ultrastructure, which were not reversed when the fat re-solidified.