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From September/October 2000

Alternative Red Meat Study Two Year Study Completed


DALLAS, TEXAS---Some say emu meat is a nutritional goldmine. Others call it the “superfood of the New Millennium.”

Recent results from a study of alternative red meats by The University of Wisconsin-Madison confirm early reports, finding emu lower in fat and higher in protein and other nutrients -- when compared with bison, venison, elk and ostrich. Additional comparisons found emu meat lower in fat than chicken, turkey, pork and beef.

Chief investigators for the study included Dennis Buege, Mark Kreul and Larry Borchert of the Muscle Biology and Meat Science Laboratory, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Also referenced in this study was nutrient determination on emu meat conducted by Leslie Thompson and co-workers at Texas Tech University during the mid-1990s.

Neil Williams, president of the American Emu Association, said the project’s results went “beyond all expectations of the American emu farming community.”

Two-year Study Looks at All Nutritional Values

Begun in 1998, the two-year research project was funded by the United States Dept. of Agriculture’s state marketing improvement program and the Wisconsin Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Along with other research goals accomplished, the study also provided important data to the USDA’s respected Nutrient Database for Standard References – the primary database used by dieticians, the medical community, food professionals and consumers to understand the composition of various foods.

“The American Heart Association recently included emu meat in its listing of heart-healthy meats,” said Williams, “and Barry Sears, internationally-known author of ‘The Zone’ recently included emu meat in his diet recommendations. So, we were hopeful that emu would be a positive in this study. What we didn’t anticipate was emu meat’s nutritional values when compared to other meats.”

The study’s chief investigator, Dennis Buege, reported that all alternative red meats tested were very low in fat content, which translates to reduced caloric content. And he also pointed out that cooking intact cuts of meat causes primary moisture loss, concentrating all other nutrients present.

“All fresh meats have very low sodium levels in comparison to salt-added processed meats,” he continued. “And selenium is an element which is getting quite a bit of attention so we included it in our analyses and found that emu, ostrich and bison had selenium levels higher than beef. Emu also contains some of the B vitamins (thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, B-6 and B-12) at levels higher than beef.”

Emu Meat Ranks High in Healthy Eating From a health standpoint, large amounts of saturated fatty acids in the diet tend to elevate serum cholesterol in some individuals, and elevated cholesterol levels are risk factors in coronary artery disease. The UW-M study compared the types of fatty acids in alternative red meat species versus other meats and poultry and found emu (25%) and ostrich (30%) meat are lower in percentage of saturated fatty acids and are on par with chicken (28%) or turkey (26%). (Fatty acid results are not yet available for bison or elk.)

Emu meat, which has been included on training tables for athletes and body builders, may now come into its own as an entrée of choice for the American consumer. “Within the American Emu Association, we’re seeing a higher demand for emu meat from hotel and restaurant chefs featuring emu meat on their menus more now than at any other time in the history of our industry,” Williams said.

Only recently chefs at Houston’s new Enron Field began ordering emu meat to serve to the stadium suite owners and emu cooking competitions have been established in Wisconsin and other states.

Costs of emu meat, including ground and steaks, are comparable to the better grades of beef on today’s market.

“Because emus are free range or grain-fed livestock, there are no growth hormones or antibiotics added to their food,” Williams pointed out, “and all emu meat is processed according to state agricultural regulations and submitted for voluntary USDA inspection.”

Emu meat may be ordered from individual producers or can be found at retail in specialty food stores and health food stores around the country. For additional information about emu meat and where it can be found, contact the American Emu Association at 800-304-8768 or check out their web site at www.aea-emu.org.

        Emu's Zine does not diagnose, prescribe or dispense medical advice.  We report and attempt to educate the public about the possible health benefits derived through the use of emu oil based products and consumption of low cholesterol, low fat emu meat.   This site contains personal testimonies and professional observations.   We encourage people to contact their family physicians regarding any health problems they may have for proper diagnosis and treatment.

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