Vitamin D-rich meat from pigs raised indoors under UVB lamps

Food, fish and agriculture Food production Innovation and product development

Meat from pigs, who receive a daily dose of UVB light during the month prior to slaughter, contains up to 20 times the normal level of vitamin D, according to a study from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark.

Danes have not embraced vitamin-fortified foods to the same extent as our Nordic neighbours. Given that one in ten Danes are at risk of becoming vitamin D-deficient during winter, the National Food Institute is participating in several research projects aimed at preventing people from becoming deficient—e.g., by increasing the natural vitamin D content of a number of everyday foods.

Vitamin D content increased many times

A PhD study from the National Food Institute has examined the effect on the vitamin D content in pigs when the animals get a daily dose of UVB light in the month prior to slaughter. This is equivalent to being exposed to sunlight for up to 10 minutes.

Analyses of minced meat with a 10% fat content from the test animals show that the meat on average contains 2.0 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams. This is 13 times higher than the 0.1 micrograms of vitamin D found in 100 grams of mince from the control animals.

On average, paté (leverpostej) made from liver and lard from the test animals contains 3.2 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams, while paté made from the control animals contains 0.1 micrograms of vitamin D per 100 grams

Both the mince and the paté could be marketed as products with a high vitamin D content – and because the vitamin is naturally occurring, there is no requirement to include in the ingredients list.

Read more

The study is described in further detail in a scientific article in the journal European Food Research and Technology: Vitamin D enhanced pork from pigs exposed to artificial UVB light in indoor facilities.

A copy of Line Lundbæk Barnkob’s PhD thesis is available at the National Food Institute. The thesis will be uploaded to DTU Orbit, when the other articles contained within the thesis have been published. Email  if you want a notification when the thesis is publically available.

The PhD study was carried out in cooperation with the Department of Photonics Engineering, Technical University of Denmark, and the University of Copenhagen as part of a larger European research project under 7th Framework Programme: ODIN (grant agreement no. 613977). One of the aims of the project was to produce knowledge, which can prevent vitamin D deficiency in EU citizens through food.