Issue Date: November 21, 2011
Proteomics Technique Could Predict Foie Gras Quality
Preparing the duck liver delicacy foie gras may soon become a more predictable experience, if a new hypothesis from French scientists turns out to be correct. The researchers found metabolic signatures that they say predict whether fat loss during cooking of a given liver will be low, which is a mark of good quality, or high (J. Agric. Food Chem., DOI: 10.1021/jf203058x). They suggest that lowering the duration of duck overfeeding required to make foie gras may keep fat loss in check. France alone produces over 20,000 metric tons of foie gras annually, according to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but fat loss variability during cooking remains an issue. Most biochemical studies of foie gras quality focus on lipids, but Caroline Molette of the Graduate School of Life Sciences of Toulouse (ENSAT) and colleagues instead examined the role of metabolic enzymes. With mass spectrometry, they analyzed proteins extracted from duck livers. Livers with low fat losses contained an abundance of enzymes involved in anabolic pathways, thought to be an early adaptation to overfeeding. In contrast, high-fat-loss livers had high levels of proteins involved in countering oxidative stress.
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