In the last several years Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) has been widely used to assess muscle structure and function and its potential in meat research is being validated. In this study a unique panel of NMR techniques and morphological procedures was used in order to characterize and discriminate muscles from finishing pigs (Large white hybrid) fed on a standard industrial feed (n = 10) or a 0-miles feed of similar composition (n = 10). The Supraspinatus, Biceps femoris and Longissimus dorsi muscles were dissected out at slaughtering and analyzed. Results showed that muscles from the two groups of pigs differed in connective/fat tissue amount as assessed by NMR imaging and histochemistry; instead, no difference was found in T2 values and fiber type composition. Moreover, some differences in fatty acid mean chain length and molar percentage of 18C fatty acids were revealed by high-resolution NMR spectroscopy. Principal component analysis of NMR spectra discriminated the two groups according to certain metabolites and localized NMR spectroscopy showed several well resolved peaks attributable to creatine, taurine, choline, intra- and extramyocellular lipids suggesting additional discriminant parameters. In conclusion, these data showed the ability of a multimodal NMR approach to detect diet-related features in muscles ex-vivo; further study is needed to transfer this approach to meat technology.
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