Since food quality, implicitly the level and quality of nutrients from food, is a primordial factor that counts in the assessment of the state of health, it is necessary that the food raw materials producing industry takes into consideration all possible ways of learning about the improve of the nutritional value of food. However, data on some qualitative indexes of ovine meat, which could otherwise contribute to a larger overview of the nutritional-biological properties of this product, occurs rather infrequently in the field literature, especially when consumers are interested in meat presently commercialized in Romania.

The main criterion that determined the choice of the researche theme was the fact that despite the existence of a wealth of information on the effects of production systems and internal factors on ovine meat quality, these have not yet been compared to those in the NE region of Romania. Considering the existing tradition of ovine breeding in the aforementioned region but also to the inclusion of our country in the European Union, leading to market liberalization, it is considered opportune to carry a study that would serve as a foundation for the characterization of this activity sector and would investigate ovine meat quality from nutritional-biological perspectives, in order to improve participation on the European market and for an adequate information of  producers, processors and consumers.

Meat quality is one of the elements that can support the renown of ovine breeds from the NE of Romania.


Key words: learning about quality, ovines meat, Romania


The improvement of life quality through healthy eating


Quality of life includes many aspects but a special attention should be paid to food quality, healthy lifestyle, namely educated consumer from scientific point of view.

The consumers should be informed about the complexity of aliments quality notion which includes a triple prerequisite, defined by: salubrity, food value and sensorial quality. In current requirements it is added also the fourth condition ensured by the food quality presentation.




Food technology and science are complex, involving specialized knowledge in a wide range of fields such as chemistry, biochemistry, physical chemistry, microbiology, nutrition, toxicology, physics, radiology, statistics and mathematics. As a consequence, food control measures are diverse and complicated.




The technical dimensions are different for nearly every food product, for the various technologies used in food preparation, processing and manufacturing and for the various types of facilities in which food is produced.

In view of the many food safety concerns of consumers and the diversity in scope and dimensions of food quality and safety problems, technical assistance is often needed. Furthermore, new food products are created every day and new technologies are being developed and introduced rapidly, so the demand for keeping up with the scientific advancements in food technology is high. Emerging hazards such as antibiotic-resistant microbes and novel pathogenic bacteria present food control officials with new challenges in maintaining controls to ensure public health. With rapid shipping methods and the global distribution of food, serious public health risks and food hazards in one part of the world can be transferred to other parts of the world in a matter of hours or a few days.

Whitehead A. J. mentioned in FAO technical assistance papers that consumers expect government to look after their interests in making sure that the food industry produces safe food and that economic fraud, unfair trade practices and risks to human health are minimized. Government frequently does not have the financial and technical resources to provide such assurance, especially in developing countries. Many developing countries lack access to the latest knowledge and information about new food processing technologies. They may also lack technically trained staff, equipment, methods and facilities for testing or analysing food for contaminants, toxins, chemical or drug residues or microbiological contamination.

As a result of the pollution effect, the pesticides, antibiotics and radioactive substances appear on foods which cause a concern increasingly higher the nutrition specialists.

Modern agriculture uses a variety of pesticides: fungicides, insecticides, acaricides, nematicides, rodencides and herbicides. Fundamental property of plant protection preparation is to modify the biological mechanisms, so that their toxic effects are reflected on the body.

By using these chemical treatments to protect plants, occurring residues of these preparates in water, soil, vegetable, milk and tissues, which are ingested by humans in various ways. On the treated fruit and vegetables there is always a significant amount of pesticide residues, depending on their remanence, while a part of it is assimilated by the root in the ground. The pesticides are accumulated also in large amounts in the animals products such as milk, meat or eggs being stored in fat.

The amount of pesticide residues in food does not cause acute intoxication, however, it presents a potential danger, being possible the challenge of a chronic intoxication.

Like all chemical substances who acting a long time, they may have a carcinogenic, teratogenic, neurotoxic or alleric effects as a result of action on biochemical processes. It is also possible, as fumigants, introduced in small quantities in the human body with food, to partially fix on some organs and to accumulate gradually, reaches a certain level, when it will appear an intoxication. To avoid the negative effects of pesticides is necessary that the toxic substance accumulated daily by human to be under physiological body limits to neutralize toxins ingested.

The intransigence of health legislation on pesticide is explained by their resistance to treatments of food processing (Mihalache C., 2013). Detailed researches made on milk revealed that most of pesticides easly withstand on the action of preservation methods, including heat treatments. As a results, the presence or absence of residues in milk products depends only on the initial quality of the raw material.

In the rational human nutrition, each of trophines from metabolic market has it’s importance, but it should be emphasized they may be substituted from the trophico – dynamic point of view – but they are not equivalent. If the essential amino acids, lipids and carbohydrates can be synthesized and inconertable, the essential amino acids and organic essential acids, vitamins and minerals can not be synthesized and they must be supplied through daily diet, in suitable proportion.

There must be a stability between what the body metabolize or lose in different physiological or pathological condition and what it receives from the outside with food, which cause, the food must have higher food value which have the better response to the body needs.

At this moment, an increasing worldwide number of producers and processors are concerned with obtaining food of superior quality, under economically advantageous conditions. Meat, originating from various species of poultry, mammals and fish, counts amongst the top preferences of consumers and producers. This situation is present due to the animals’ capacity of capitalizing efficiently upon various fodder raw materials, or even secondary products and residues of agricultural nature, unfit for human consumption, transforming them in a product of high nutritional-biological value: meat. This aliment is considered to be, like eggs and milk, a complete aliment, presenting an important plastic and energetic role.

Since food quality, implicitly the level and quality of nutrients from food, is a primordial factor that counts into the assessment of the state of health, it is necessary that the raw food materials producing industry takes into consideration all possible ways of improving the nutritional value of foods. However, data on some qualitative indexes of ovine meat, which could otherwise contribute to a larger picture of the nutritional-biological properties of this product, occurs rather infrequently in the field literature, especially when consumers are interested in the meat presently commercialized in Romania.

Ovine meat production is a competitive industry, therefore it is necessary that sufficient attention be paid to factors capable of affecting it’s profitability. Breeding local breeds of ovines (Karakul, Țurcană) for milk-meat, extensively or semi-intensively on natural pastures, with no supplements feed, is a commonly spread practice in our country. For market competitiveness, it outlined the necessity of assessing meat originating from these two ovine breeds under nutritional-biological aspect. These assessments are necessary, considering the modern consumers that are increasingly concerned with meat production under safe conditions, with no adverse affects upon their health. This leads to increased preference for meat produced under natural conditions or ecological products. Natural/ecological meat production implies minimal use of chemical substances in ovine breeding activities (Crăciun O. și colab., 2012; Murariu O., 2013).

The Karakul and Țurcană breeds should span international interest because of their good adaptability to harsh environment conditions, high reproductive performance, resistance at long walking distances, good capacity of finding feed as well as reduced requirements for sustenance. Therefore, the Karakul and Țurcană breeds have a significant role in ovine meat production, presenting high nutritional value with the rich protein content, essential amino acids and the ω6:ω3 fatty acids ratio.

This study aims towards promoting local ovine breeds (Karakul and Țurcană), with the intent of identifying niche markets for natural ovine meat, thus making assessment of nutritional-biological value of meat mandatory in order to identify its quality.

Considering that an increasing number of red meat consumers are becoming aware of factors influencing health,  the objective consisted of the study of aminoacids and fatty acid profiles of ovine meat (naturally breed) since some fats affect consumer health.

The analyses were performed in laboratories from the Department of Agricultural and environmental research studies at the University of Udine, Italy.

Chromatographic conditions for aminoacids determinations: The column was thermostatic at 37°C and the flow rate was 0.8 ml/min. The injection volume was 20 µl.

Mobile phase A consisted of acetate-phosphate aqueous buffer, mobile phase B was acetonitrile 100% and C was UHQ water.

Before beginning the gradient, the column was equilibrated in 100% A for 10 min. After the last analysis of the day, the column was washed for 30 min. with 100% UHQ water, then conditioned for 15-20 min. with acetonitrile/water (60:40). If the column has to be stored for more than 72 h, it was kept in 100% of acetonitrile. Detection was carried out by UV-Vis detector at 248 nm and by fluorescence (250 nm λ wavelength excitation, 395 nm λ emission).

Meat protein and aminoacids

Among the many essential substances for life, proteins plays a key role, constituting the structural support of all tissues and a fulfilling role. Proteins are constituient part of some enzymes or some leavens, occupying the the role of biochemical catalysts;  being constituients in the hormone structure and participates at the antibodies formation; substances involved in body defending against germs and toxins.

The protein characteristics are the reason why the most diet are calling at least one element constituient of those (Peter Barham, 2001). The meat protein quality is very high because the types and the quantity of aminoacids are similar to those necessary for the growth and maintenance of human tissue (P. Cattaneo, 2003).

The essential aminoacids

On average, 40% of the aminoacids are unavailable, that can not be synthesized by the body and must be supplied through diet. In literature meat is recommended as suitable food for essential aminoacids providing. Meat protein has a high biological value, being determined by the mixture of aminoacid content, which is similar to the composition of aminoacids necessary in human body (Murariu F. et al., 2013).

The analysis of methyl esters of fatty acids is carried out by gas chromatograph method. The chromatographic conditions used was Capillary column: stationary phase type SP-2380 (60 m x 0.25 mm(internal diameter) x 0.25 µm (film thickness), Supelco Inc., Bellafonte, P.A.).

Meat protein is essential for growth and development and providing to the body the energy needed to produce hormones, antibodies, enzymes and tissues (Friedman M., 1996), also helping to maintaining the adequate acid-alkaline balance in the human body. By consumption, they are deconstructed in amino acids, that are the building blocks of all proteins, some of which being non-essential. People have the capacity to produce 10 of the 20 amino acids, the rest must be provided in daily diet because the human body doesn’t store the amino acids excess for later use, unlike fat and starch. The impossibility to obtain even an essential amino acid in quantities required, leads to degradation of body protein (muscle and other tissues), to counteract imbalances.

Nutritional value and the quality of different structural proteins vary, being regulated by the amino acids composition, the ratio between the essential amino acid susceptibility and the hydrolysis during digestion (Yildiz F., 2009). To optimize the use of proteins is considered necessary a better understanding of the biological parameters correlated with their influence on nutrition.

The publications about possible changes of the amino acids composition in muscle tissue of ovines during livestock are relatively limitated (Loest și col., 1997), therefore the protein source provided by ovine meat consumption have not been studied for the Karakul breed.

Gilka et al. (1989) cited by Loest (1997) report about the protein muscle composition that is genetically determined and, therefore is not expected to appear changes in different growth conditions (i.e. the quantity and quality of animal diet or health status). On the other hand, it can not ignore the fact that the proportion of muscle and tissue can vary depending on age (Smith, 2006).

This factor, as well as muscle region appear to have an influence over the amino acids content in ovines carcasses.

In the present study the liquid chromatographic analyzes were carried out for two different muscle regions (Longissimus dorsi and Triceps brachii), the samples being collected from carcasses of two slaughtered ovines groups with different ages (lambs and adult ovines).

The essential aminoacid content was evaluated in relation to age and animals muscle region, belonging of Karakul breed, who had the same system of growth and nutrition, in Horlești farm, Iași county.

The samples harvesting from Karakul ovines breed carcasses had an average value of essential amino acids content between 19.8 ± 0.45 mg/100 g AA/ 100 g sample (histidine, adult ovines group) and 66.69 ± 0.002 mg/100 g AA (lysine, at lambs) for Longissimus dorsi muscle and between 1.29 ± 0.02 mg/ 100 g AA (histidine, at lambs) and 116.9 ± 0.32 mg/ 100 g (tryptophan, at lambs) at Triceps brachii muscles.

The muscles harvested from ovines carcasses presented in its constitution, protein whose composition in essential amino acids highlighted in the two muscle groups analyzed unit and dominant superiority in tryptophan, lysine and leucine. The tryptophan mean value defined a limited range of variation between 31.43 ± 0.3 mg/ 100 g (ovines Triceps brachii muscles) and 116.9 ± 0.32 mg/ 100 g (lambs Triceps brachii muscles), embodying a difference between them of 85.47 mg/ 100 g. For lysine, it was defined a variation range inferior bounded by 59.93 ± 0.93 mg/ 100 g (ovines Triceps brachii muscles) and superior limited by 66.69 ± 0.5 mg/ 100 g (lambs Longissimus dorsi muscles) and the leucine was defined by the variation interval between of 53.3 ± 0.75 mg/ 100 g (ovines Triceps brachii muscles) and 60.2 ± 0.48 mg/ 100 g (lambs Longissimus dorsi muscles).

The specific composition in essential amino acids of the two muscle analysed from lambs releaved that tryptophan is distinguish with higher average value in Triceps brachii muscles (116.9 mg/ 11 g) by Longissimus dorsi muscle (44.2 mg/100 g).

However, the muscles regions from lambs releaved lower average amounts for histidine in Triceps brachii muscle (1.29 mg/ 100 g) in some samples being even nonexistent beside Longissimus dorsi muscle who recorded higher values (23.82 mg/ 100 g). Excepting tryptophan, the superior extremes for each aminoacids corresponding average value were recorded on Longissimus dorsi muscle from lambs.

Overall, the specific composition of each muscle region analyzed in essential amino acids reveals that at Longissimus dorsi muscle, the superior extremes for each amino acid was recoreded in lambs samples for the most parameters, excepting tryptophan, which recorded higher mean values in adult ovines muscles (52.9 vs. 44.27 mg/ 100 g).

Table 1

Indicators on essential amino acid content (g AA/g meat sample) in ovines meat

Specification Age category V%
Arginine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 55,76 ± 0,11 0,6
Triceps brachii 46,6 ± 1,2 7,23
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 52,7 ± 1,33 7,16
Triceps brachii 51,4 ± 0,8 4,36
Histidine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 23,82 ± 0,67 8,03
Triceps brachii 1,29 ± 0,002 0,64
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 19,8 ± 0,45 6,5
Triceps brachii 18,9 ± 0,3 4,23
Isoleucine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 38,07 ± 0,21 1,57
Triceps brachii 36,4 ± 1,1 8,6
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 35,2 ± 0,08 0,69
Triceps brachii 31,8 ± 0,3 2,68
Leucine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 60,2 ± 0,48 2,25
Triceps brachii 59,7 ± 2,07 9,81
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 57,3 ± 0,36 1,78
Triceps brachii 53,3 ± 0,75 3,93
Lysine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 66,69 ± 0,5 2,14
Triceps brachii 65,4 ± 0,89 3,86
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 65 ± 1,26 5,52
Triceps brachii 59,93 ± 0,93 4,4
Phenylalanine Longissimus dorsi Lambs


30,07 ± 0,4 3,92
Triceps brachii 25,03 ± 0,65 7,4
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 28,5 ± 0,24 2,43
Triceps brachii 27,18 ± 0,13 1,43
Threonine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 32,3 ± 0,34 3
Triceps brachii 31,9 ± 0,48 4,31
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 30,1 ± 0,24 2,83
Triceps brachii 28,2 ± 0,2 2,15
Valine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 42,5 ± 0,34 2,32
Triceps brachii 41,4 ± 1,38 9,44
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 38,9 ± 0,13 0,98
Triceps brachii 35,8 ± 0,3 2,4
Thryptophan Longissimus dorsi Lambs 44,27 ± 0,32 2,09
Triceps brachii 116,9± 0,32 0,79
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 52,9 ± 0,32 1,74
Triceps brachii 31,43 ± 0,3 2,94
Methionine Longissimus dorsi Lambs 21,05 ± 0,3 4,4
Triceps brachii 15,01 ± 0,3 6,16
Longissimus dorsi Adults ovines 19,8 ± 0,3 4,67
Triceps brachii 16,4 ± 0,3 5,6


The specific composition in essential amino acids for the two categories of muscle region reveals that the superior extremes of each amino acid mean value were recorded at Longissimus dorsi muscle, with low differences between Triceps brachii muscles, except tryptphan with a difference between the quantities of 21.47 mg/ 100 g (52.9 mg/ 100 g in Longissimus dorsi muscle vs. 31.43 mg/ 100 g in Triceps brachii muscle).

The statistical analysis indicated that the ovines slaghter at different ages present a significant influence for isoleucine, histidine, tryptophane and threonine. Comparing statistically the essential amino acid values recorded in both region muscles was foud significant differences for histidine, thryptophane and threonine content.

The meat from the to muscles analyzed from lamb category has a high biological value, and the superiority of the analyzed muscles stands for Longissimus dorsi.

Nutritional importance of meat

In specialty literature meat is considered a valuable food from the nutritional point of view due to its content in macronutrient (protein and fat) and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals), substances that are necessary for essential metabolic processes of the human body.

Meat quality is measured by the ratio between the amount of lean meat and fatty meat contained. Their percentage participation in meat composition determines the energy and protein meat value (Chan, 2004).

The meat is composed of a mixture of several kinds of tissues: muscle, fat, bone, loose, fibrous cartilage, nerve, epithelial). The percentage of participation of these tissues in the meat composition is etermined by: genotype, species, breed, age, gender, physiological status, state of fattening, diet regime or muscle region analyzed.

Chemical characteristics of the meat are given by element components properties of it, giving it a solid nutritional potential, trough the rich content in protein and low content in carbohydrates, including glucose and glycogen, which are found more frequently in the liver, in very small percentage (Biesalski, 2005; Yves Geay și colab., 2001).

Given that the saturated fatty acids (AGS) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) are considered to be harmful to human health, the value of the muscle can be reduced by increasing the proportion of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Contrary, some polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA, ω6, ω3 and conjugated linoleic acid), are recommended especially the ones embedded in muscle tissue, because it seems to play a positive role in preventing or reducing human diseas (various type of cancers, artherosclerosis, obesity).

The skeletal muscle structure and its biochemical components influence the transformation of muscle to meat quality and the perceptible quality in therms of sensorial point of view including tenderness, color, flavor and juiciness.

In Europe and the USA has been observed a decrease in consumption of red meat since 1998, being explained by fierce competition with white meat, whose price is relatively low. This decrease may be determined by the food preferences of consumers who are interested in maintaining health, as a result of public statements made by some doctors about red meat, as it may contain higher amount of saturated fat (SFA) and fatty transmonounsatureted acids (MUFAtrans), being considerated as a major risk for developing coronary heart disease. Yves Geay et al. (2001) mentioned that these public statements have distanced consumer from producer and they have created a new type of consumer less informed about product definition, quality and origins.

Quality has a particularly important role in social and economic challenges, being requested and required by saturation of food markets, due to the high efficiency of modern agriculture. This is one of the reasons that the quality of meat occupied a significant place in research agenda, from many years ago, at worldwide level.

Meat represent an important source of protein (17 – 22% in fresh muscle tissue), rich in essential amino acids (55.2 g to 16 g of nitrogen) (Fauconneau și colab., 1997). These proteins are slightly deficient in sulfide amino acids, but rich in lysine (9.1 g to 16 g of nitrogen).

Ruminant animals meat, in particularly from ovines, is an important source of hemin iron (2 – 5 mg·100 mg-1 in fresh muscle tissue being 3 – 4 fold higher than that contained in the pigs or chickens meat), which is more readily absorbed compared to non-hemin iron from plants.

CIV quoted by Geay (2001) related that the zinc is also present in a fairly large amount in meat (3 – 11 mg·100 mg-1 depending on muscle region).

Ovine meat is an important source of B vitamin: B1, B3, B2, B6, B12 (Favier și colab., 1995), especially of B6 vitamins (0.15 – 0.25 mg∙g-1 in lamb meat) and (1.5 – 2.5 mg∙g-1) which are practically absent in plants, being synthesized by microorganisms in the digestive tract of ruminants. Although the chemical composition of meat is relatively stable for water content (apx. 75%), proteins (19 – 25%), minerals and carbohydrates (1 – 2%), it manifests variations in lipid content. The lipid content depends on the muscle region to which the adipose tissues varies according to intramuscular and subcutaneous content (CIV quoted by Geay (2001)).

Ovine meat presents nutritional importance by the ratio of total lipids, expressed in value, according to nutritional needs of the consumer, because it doesn’t exceed 5% (Demeyer, 1999). In addition, ovines meat is characterized by a high ratio of protein to fat, which can reach according to muscle region between 12 to 2.



The meat from the to muscles (Longissimus dorsi and Triceps brachii) analyzed from lamb category has a high biological value, and the superiority of the analyzed muscles stands for Longissimus dorsi muscle.

In the present study, age showed highly significant effects (p<0.001) for essential amino acids: isoleucine, tryptophan and histidine and significant distinctly (p<0.01) in threonine. Muscle region had very significant effects (p<0.001) for histidine and tryptophan and significant (distinctly p<0.01) for threonine.

For lambs were obtained superior biological values for both muscles, and in terms of muscle region, Longissimus dorsi has remarkable biological.



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THE RIGHT OF A HEALTHY LIVE PROVIDED BY A HEALTHY EATING SUPPORT was last modified: iunie 7th, 2016 by Otilia Murariu