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Getting some selenium into the pork on your

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Getting some selenium into the pork on your fork is the challenge facing Pork CRC funded post graduate researcher Dhammika Jayasooriya as she researches ways to enrich pork with selenium to make it available in the diet.

This vital trace element is a crucial part of the human diet, protecting cells from oxidation.

Australia, New Zealand and Europe have selenium- deprived soils, which can lead to selenium deficiency in the diets in these areas.

Selenium is usually present in animal foods, such as the organs and other meat from poultry and seafoods, but is also available in cereals and grains, dairy products, fruit and vegetables.

The amount of selenium in food depends on the selenium in the soil where animals are raised and plants grown.

But just because selenium is present in food, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be absorbed and used by the body.

Nutritionists know that its availability to the body depends on its chemical form, the food source, the composition of the total diet and the individual’s nutritional status, though these factors are poorly understood.

However they do know that pork is a very good source of readily available selenium.

Dhammika’s task is to shed some light on the subject by investigating the availability of selenium from cooked selenium-enriched pork for selenium-deficient laboratory rats.

This will be followed by a study of rat colon cancer that will investigate selenium’s possible role in the early defence against colon cancer.

Her study will take place at the Department of Primary Industry, Victoria, in Werribee and Murdoch University, WA.

The work will help develop the most cost efficient way to increase selenium and iron in pork and potentially generate new products for Australian and overseas markets for healthy selenium and iron-enriched pork.

With a background in agricultural science and a Masters in Food Science from the UK, where she worked for three years, she’s well qualified for the task.

Progress is well underway on her Pork CRC funded research project, “Bioavailability of Selenium in enriched pork and pork products and health implications”.

According to Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell, preliminary results are very promising and indicate that the selenium level of pork can be enriched and might be more available than organic selenium. There is also some evidence that feeding cooked selenium-enriched pork reduces the incidence of colon cancer in rats.

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