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Nutrition research recognised

Tuesday 16th of December 2014

The outstanding contribution made by leading researcher Professor Dave Pethick to nutrition and its applications to people and animals, has been recognised with the award of a prestigious Fellowship from the Nutrition Society of Australia.

Prof Pethick’s PhD in the field of ruminant biochemistry and nutrition set him on a research path that has involved many different animal species and research into many problems involving nutrition, biochemistry and physiology.

Through Dr Pethick’s research leadership, the sheep industry has been able to show that lamb is a significant source of beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids and is also low in saturated fats – influential factors for discerning modern consumers concerned about their health.

"The field of nutrition research is delivering particularly exciting results for the Australian sheepmeat industry because we can now prove to consumers the health benefits that some of the most common restaurant cuts such as lamb rumps and trim racks can provide," Prof. Pethick said.

"Having a good understanding of the basic biochemical pathways and how they are controlled provides a good starting point for research into a diversity of topics that includes muscle function during exercise, gut health, nutritional diseases, production feeding, meat eating quality and the links between meat composition and implications for human nutrition."

Dr Pethick, from the School of Veterinary & Life Sciences at Murdoch University, is the leader of the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) quality-based sheepmeat value chains program.

"It’s very pleasing to have this research recognised by the Nutrition Society of Australia and I’m looking forward to our ongoing work in this area so that the sheepmeat industry can continue to meet the needs of the consumer," he said.

Dr Pethick’s 34-year research career is renowned within the Australian sheepmeat industry for his role in the development of Meat Standards Australia – a carcase grading system which predicts the tenderness of meat and consumer satisfaction levels depending how it is prepared.

His work has also been recognised around the world, contributing to 16 book chapters, 193 referred papers in international journals and the development of three patents.

Dr Pethick’s research has also shown that lamb compares favourably to pork and chicken for the beneficial minerals iron and zinc.

"Lamb contains three times more iron than pork and six times more than chicken," he said. "And lamb has double the amount of zinc compared to pork and six times more zinc than chicken.

"Our research will enable the industry to underpin its status in the marketplace for iron, zinc and fat composition and help promote lamb as an important, healthy component of a balanced diet."

More information on the Sheep CRC’s meat research program can be found by clicking here.

Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666

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