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Commercial cuts of Pantanal caiman meat according to sex/Caracterizacao dos cortes comerciais da carne de jacare-do-Pantanal em funcao do sexo.


Reptiles are an important source of protein for humans, especially for people seeking low-fat foods for health reasons (HOFFMAN, 2008). In Brazil, captive farming of alligators was authorized in 1990 by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) by the passage of Ordinance 126. Successful examples have shown that sustainable farming of the Pantanal caiman (Caiman crocodilus yacare) can contributed to a healthy ecosystem (VERDADE, 2004; VICENTE NETO et al., 2010).

Consumer interest in the Pantanal caiman has typically been related to the exploitation of leather, but more recently, caiman meat is being sold in specialty restaurants and supermarkets (TABOGA et al., 2003). Fresh caiman meat is easily marketed because of its attractive appearance and pleasant taste (ROMANELLI et al., 2002).

Bush meat consumption and demand is increasing (RODRIGUES et al., 2007). Studies evaluating the processing yields and chemical characterization of different types of cuts obtained from the Pantanal caiman have helped to provide important subsidies for industrial processing. Moreover, they have enabled consumers to better understand the nutritional value. This study analyzed four types of commercial cuts (tail, sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh) of male and female caiman for their chemical composition, fatty acid profile, color, and yield.


We used 20 Pantanal caimans (Caiman crocodilusyacare) with an average age of two years. Average body weight of females (n=10) was 3,677g. Average body weight of males (n=10) was of 3,510g. IBAMA authorized the use of wild offspring from a scientific zoo located in the municipality of Caceres MT Brazil (Cooperativa dos Criadores de Jacare-do-Pantanal --Coocrijapan). Before slaughter, animals were held in tanks, fasted for 48 hours, had their mouths tied, and their sex was determined. They were washed with chlorinated water at 0.5ppm immediately prior to slaughter. Alligators were desensitized with an air gun (Zilca, Gil Equipment), shot in the cranial region, bled, skinned, and gutted. Carcasses were washed in chlorinated water and chilled at 2 to 4[degrees]C. Twenty-four hours after slaughter, carcasses were deboned and cut into four types of commercial cuts: tail, sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh. Cuts were identified, packaged in plastic bags, frozen and stored in a cold chamber at -18 [+ or -] 2[degrees]C until analysis.

Yields of commercial cuts were determined in relation to the total weight of the specimen using this formula: yield (%) = (cut weight / animal weight) X 100. Commercial cuts were analyzed for chemical composition, fatty acids, and colorimetry. Analyses of moisture and ash were performed in triplicate (ASSOCIATION OF OFFICIAL ANALYTICAL CHEMISTS, 2005). Crude protein content was determined in triplicate using the semi-micro Kjeldahl method (SILVA & QUEIROZ, 2002). Extraction of total lipids was performed in accordance to BLIGH & DYER (1959).

To analyze fatty acids, total lipids were transesterified according to the ISO methodology (1978). Methyl esters of fatty acids were separated in a gas chromatograph Varian 3380 (Varian, USA) equipped with a flame ionization detector and fused silica capillary column CP-7420Select FAME (100m, 0.25mm, and 0.25[micro]m film, Varian, USA). The [H.sub.2] flow was 1.0mL[min.sup.-1], with 30mL[min.sup.-1] of [N.sub.2] (makeup); 30 and 300mL[min.sup.-1] for [H.sub.2]. and synthetic air for the detector flame. A volume of 0.2[micro]L was injected using a split ratio of 1:80. Injector and detector temperatures were 220 and 240[degrees]C, respectively. The column temperature was 165[degrees]C for 18min, raised to 235[degrees]C at a rate of 4[degrees]C[min.sup.-1], and held at that temperature for 24.5min. Identification of the fatty acids was performed by comparing themethyl esters retention times between Sigma standards with samples and comparing the equivalent chain length values of samples methyl esters with those data reported by STRANSKY et al. (1997). Fatty acid profiles are presented for each of the four types of commercial cuts.

Color of the commercial cuts of the Pantanal caiman was determined using a portable colorimeter Hunter Lab miniscan EZ (Hunter Associates Laboratory, Inc., Virginia, USA) at four different reading points per sample using D65 light source, 10[degrees] viewing angle, and 30mm opening of the measuring cell. Lightness values were defined as follow: [L.sup.*]=0 black and [L.sup.*]=100 white, [a.sup.*] (red-green component) and [b.sup.*] (yellow-blue component).

The experiment was a completely randomized using a 2x4 factorial design, with two sexes (male and female) and four types of commercial cut (tail, sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh), using 10 replications per treatment group. Two-way analysis of variance followed by Tukey's test (Pvalue 0.05) was used to investigate relationships among weight, yield, proximate composition, and color (Statistical Analysis System, SAS Inst. Inc., Cary, NC, USA).


No statistically significant difference in weight of the different commercial cuts (tail, sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh) was reported based on sex (P=0.2632) (Table 1). Females had a higher mean weight of cuts (296.6g) compared with males (272.9g), which was statistically significant (P=0.0411). Tail weight was greater than the weight of the other types of cuts (sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh) (P<0.0001). The highest yield was reported in the tail of females (17.0%) compared with tail yield of males (15.9%) and that of other cuts, demonstrating a statistically significant interaction (P=0.0010) between cuts and sex (Table 1). Separate analysis of the types of cuts indicated that back fillet provided a lower yield (4.8%) than other types of cuts, and the tail showed the greatest yield among the types of cuts (16.4%).

The proximate composition of the different types of cuts according to sex is showed in table 2. Regardingthe moisture content, the tail had a lower moisture content (71.5%) compared with the other types of cuts (P<0.0001). There was significant interaction between cuts and sex in terms of protein content (P=0.0074), lipid content (P<0.0001), and ash (P=0.0170). In males, crude protein content in the thigh was lower (20.8%) compared with other cuts of males. Crude protein content values were not significantly different between males and females. Lipids in the tails of males were lower than that in females (2.4%). Tails of females showed the greatest amount of fat (2.4%), followed by the thigh (0.8%), sirloin cut (0.6%), and back fillet (0.5%). In males, the tail also contained a greater amount of lipids (1.7%) compared with other cuts. For ash content, the tail of males and sirloin cut of females presented higher values (1.4 and 1.4%, respectively) compared with the ash content of males (1.2%).

Fatty acid profiles are presented in table 3. Fatty acids identified at the highest percentage included saturated (palmitic (16:0) and stearic (18:0) acids), followed by oleic acid (18:1n-9), linoleic (18:2n-6) and timnodonic (EPA-20:5n-3). The tail showed the highest levels of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as the highest n6/n3 ratio, compared with other cuts. The back fillet had a higher sum of polyunsaturated fatty acids (37.1%), followed by sirloin cut (26.8%), thigh (26.1%), and tail (7.4%). The back fillet (26.4%) and thigh (21.3%) exhibited a higher amount of omega 3 in relation to tail and sirloin cuts.

Evaluating the color of commercial cuts of Pantanal caiman meat (Table 4), a significant interaction was p reported (P>0.05) between commercial cuts and sex for all three values measured: lightness, chroma [a.sup.*] (red-green component), and [b.sup.*] (yellow-blue component). Considering the commercial cuts individually, chroma [a.sup.*] was highest in thigh (2.0) while the sirloin cut had the lowest chroma [a.sup.*] (-0.8) (P<0.0001). Males had a higher mean value of chroma [b.sup.*] (6.9) compared with females (P=0.0076).


Information on the standardization of commercial cuts, yield, meat quality, and nutritional values are important for both producers (KLUCZKOVSKI JUNIOR et al., 2015) and consumers of exotic meats. In this study, the tail provided the greatest yield from the Pantanal caiman carcass. Other studies of alligator meat have similarly reported the highest yield from the tail (ROMANELLI et al., 2002; COSSU et al., 2007; UCZKOVSKI JUNIOR et al., 2015). Alligator tail is usually processed into cross sections (10-15mm thick) and has high market value in restaurants (HOFFMAN et al., 2000). Females showed higher tail yield (17.0%) compared with males (15.9%), although there was no statistically significant difference for body weight between females and males. Meat processing yield may be affected by sex, weight and age of animal, types of commercial cuts, and the level of skill of the operator who makes the cuts.

Due to the higher lipid content, the tail in both sexes of Pantanal caiman showed less moisture content than the other cuts. In general, water is inversely proportional to the amount of fat in meat. Previously, ROMANELLI et al. (2002) and VICENTE NETO et al. (2007) reported similar moisture values and observed that variations in moisture content are related to the animal's weight origin, and type of cut.

Variations in crude protein content among the different commercial meat cuts of the Pantanal caiman (from 20.5% to 23.8%) may be related to changes in the concentration of intramuscular protein, which increases during the animal's growth (ROMANELLI et al., 2002). RODRIGUES et al. (2007) examined sirloin cut, back fillet, tail fillet, and limbs in the Pantanal caiman and reported protein values of 24.2%, 24.4%, 23.6%, and 24.1%, respectively. Other species of alligators may have lower values of crude protein, i.e., 16.9% for Caiman latirostris (COSSU et al., 2007) and 19.23% for Melanosuchus niger (KLUCZKOVSKI JUNIOR et al., 2015). The thigh showed lower protein values (21.6%) compared with other cuts. This may be related to the size and type of muscle fibers that make up the thigh, which differ from other parts of the carcass. Similarly, chicken thighs tend to have lower protein content compared with chest meat (ROSA et al., 2006; FARIA et al., 2009).

Ash content was also different between the type of cut and sex, and the thighs of males had lower ash content (1.2%) compared with the tail of males (1.4%) and sirloin cut of females (1.4%). Despite these differences, the values are similar to those reported by others on Pantanal caiman, such as by ROMANELLI et al. (2002) and VICENTE NETO et al. (2007).

Lipid content can vary according to the season, type of feeding, and exercise intensity of the animal (KLUCZKOVSKI JUNIOR et al., 2015). In both sexes, the tail had a higher lipid content compared with other types of commercial cuts, supporting other findings that tail usually has the largest deposits of intramuscular fat (HOFFMAN & CAWTHORN, 2014). Pantanal caimans store fat in muscle tissues of the tail, probably for use when food supplies are low (VICENTE NETO et al., 2007). Moreover, tail muscles require energy reserves to support the animal's locomotion in aquatic environments. Other studies have shown that females tend to accumulate more fat than males, showing higher lipid content in the tail (2.4%) and thigh (0.8%) compared with males (1.7% for tail and 0.4% for thigh) (VICENTE NETO et al., 2007). In female mammals and reptiles, there is a predominance of somatic and visceral fat in tissues due to the sexual and reproductive function of hormonal activities. For example, flour prepared with viscera of female Pantanal caiman has 52.8% of lipids, while flour prepared with viscera of males has 23.3% of lipids (ROMANELLI & SCHMIDT, 2003).

Our results show that Pantanal caiman thigh, sirloin cuts, and back fillet have low total lipid content and high proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Table 3), similar to those of previous research (VICENTE NETO et al., 2010). Nevertheless, in the tail, there was a greater amount of monounsaturated fatty acids (45.2%) compared with other cuts. This result was also reported by COSSU et al. (2007) for the tail of two species of alligator (Caiman latirostris and Caiman y acare), which showed 39.2% of monounsaturated fatty acids. Tail also had a higher n6/n3 ratio than the other cuts (4.60), similar to the 3.16 ratio found by COSSU et al. (2007). A n6/n3 ratio close to 4:1 is considered to be optimal for health according to SCHAEFER (2002), demonstrating the marketing value of alligator tail.

Color of the commercial cuts (Table 4) showed high lightness values, close to the mean values reported in white meat (RODRIGUES et al., 2007). Males have more yellowish meat compared with females (Table 4). This result may be related to the lipid content, which was lower in males than in females. Thigh and back fillet were more reddish compared with the other cuts, showing the highest values for chroma [a.sup.*] (2.0 and 1.0, respectively). This finding was similar to those reported by RODRIGUES et al. (2007) for limbs and back fillet in relation to sirloin cut and tail. Such changes may be associated with the size and type of muscle fibers (RODRIGUES et al., 2007). Values obtained for chroma a* indicated that Pantanal caiman can be classified as white meat (VICENTE NETO, 2006).


Pantanal caiman females showed a greater yield of tail and higher lipid content than males. Among the four types of commercial cuts considered, the tail has the highest yield, lowest moisture content, greatest lipid content, and greatest amount of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. The sirloin cut, back fillet, and thigh showed the highest total level of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Meat from males was more yellowish in color compared with that of females. For both males and females, the thigh and back fillet were more reddish in color.


The methods were conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Brazilian College on Animal Experimentation (COBEA) and were approved by the Comite de Etica da Universidade Estadual de Maringa (UEM) Maringa, State of Parana, Brasil (Protocol 149/2010-CAAE).

Received 09.09.16 Approved 02.23.16


The authors would like to thank the Cooperativa dos Criadores de jacare-do-Pantanal (Coocrijapan) and to Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Cientifico e Tecnologico (CNPq) for the scholarship.


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Vitoria Regina Takeuchi Fernandes (1) Maria Luiza Rodrigues de Souza (2) * Eliane Gasparino (2) Marcos Eduardo Coutinho (3) Jesui Vergilio Visentainer (4) Alessandro Spinola Bergamo (5) Elenice Souza dos Reis Goes (6)

(1) Programa de Pos-graduacao em Zootecnia, Universidade Estadual de Maringa (UEM), Maringa, PR, Brasil.

(2) Departamento de Zootecnia, Universidade Estadual de Maringa (UEM), 87020-900, Maringa, PR, Brasil. E-mail: * Corresponding author.

(3) Centro de Conservacao e Manejo de Repteis e Anfibios, Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis, Lagoa Santa, MG, Brasil.

(4) Departamento de Quimica, Universidade Estadual de Maringa (UEM), Maringa, PR, Brasil.

(5) Departamento de Biologia, Universidade do Estado de Mato Grosso (UNEMAT), Caceres, MT, Brasil.

(6) Faculdade de Ciencias Agrarias, Universidade Federal da Grande Dourados (UFGD), Dourados, MS, Brasil.
Table 1--Weight, yield, and statistical comparison of
commercial cuts of meat from Pantanal caiman (Caiman
crocodilus yacare).

Sex      Cuts          Weight (g)               Yield (%)

Male     Tail          559.3 [+ or -] 54.2      15.9 [+ or -] 0.6 b
         Sirloin cut   180.9 [+ or -] 19.2      5.2 [+ or -] 0.3 c
         Back fillet   168.2 [+ or -] 22.8      4.8 [+ or -] 0.4 c
         Thigh         183.1 [+ or -] 22.0      5.2 [+ or -] 0.6 c
Female   Tail          622.2 [+ or -] 114.2     17.0 [+ or -] 0.6 a
         Sirloin cut   197.8 [+ or -] 40.2      5.4 [+ or -] 0.2 c
         Back fillet   173.8 [+ or -] 39.5      4.7 [+ or -] 0.5 cd
         Thigh         193.8 [+ or -] 41.6      5.3 [+ or -] 0.3 c


Sex      Male          272.9 [+ or -] 170.3 b   7.8 [+ or -] 4.8
         Female        296.6 [+ or -] 201.3 a   8.1 [+ or -] 5.2
Cuts     Tail          587.6 [+ or -] 89.8 a    16.4 [+ or -] 0.8
         Sirloin cut   188.5 [+ or -] 30.8 b    5.3 [+ or -] 0.3
         Back fillet   170.7 [+ or -] 30.7 b    4.8 [+ or -] 0.4
         Thigh         189.4 [+ or -] 36.6 b    5.3 [+ or -] 0.4


         Interaction   0.2632                   0.0010
         Sex           0.0411                   0.0036
         Cuts          <0.0001                  <0.0001

Data expressed in mean [+ or -] standard deviation. Means followed
by different lowercase letters are significantly different by two-way
analysis of variance followed by Tukey's test (P<0.05).

Table 2--Composition of commercial cuts of the meat of Pantanal
caiman (Caiman crocodilus yacare) and statistical comparison of
the influence of sex and type of cut.

Sex           Cuts          Moisture (%)          Protein (%)

Male          Tail          71.2 [+ or -] 2.4     23.5 [+ or -] 1.5 a
              Sirloin cut   75.7 [+ or -] 0.4     23.6 [+ or -] 1.7 a
              Back fillet   76.7 [+ or -] 0.5     23.8 [+ or -] 1.8 a
              Thigh         76.8 [+ or -] 1.1     20.8 [+ or -] 1.0 b

Female        Tail          71.7 [+ or -] 2.1     22.2 [+ or -] 1.1 ab
              Sirloin cut   75.8 [+ or -] 0.9     22.7 [+ or -] 1.9 ab
              Back fillet   76.8 [+ or -] 0.9     22.7 [+ or -] 2.1 ab
              Thigh         76.6 [+ or -] 0.8     22.5 [+ or -] 2.3 ab


Sex           Male          75.1 [+ or -] 2.7     22.9 [+ or -] 2.0
              Female        75.2 [+ or -] 2.5     22.5 [+ or -] 1.9

Cuts          Tail          71.5 [+ or -] 2.2 b   22.8 [+ or -] 1.5
              Sirloin cut   75.7 [+ or -] 0.7 a   23.1 [+ or -] 1.9
              Back fillet   76.7 [+ or -] 0.8 a   23.3 [+ or -] 2.0
              Thigh         76.7 [+ or -] 0.9 a   21.6 [+ or -] 1.9


Interaction                 0.8527                0.0074
Sex                         0.6188                0.2385
Cuts                        <0.0001               0.0062

Sex           Cuts          Lipids (%)            sh (%)

Male          Tail          1.7 [+ or -] 0.3 b    1.4 [+ or -] 0.1 a
              Sirloin cut   0.5 [+ or -] 0.2 d    1.3 [+ or -] 0.1 ab
              Back fillet   0.6 [+ or -] 0.1 cd   1.3 [+ or -] 0.1 ab
              Thigh         0.4 [+ or -] 0.1 d    1.2 [+ or -] 0.1 b

Female        Tail          2.4 [+ or -] 0.5 a    1.3 [+ or -] 0.1 ab
              Sirloin cut   0.6 [+ or -] 0.2 d    1.4 [+ or -] 0.1 a
              Back fillet   0.5 [+ or -] 0.1 d    1.3 [+ or -] 0.1 ab
              Thigh         0.8 [+ or -] 0.1 c    1.3 [+ or -] 0.1 ab


Sex           Male          0.7 [+ or -] 0.4      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1
              Female        0.9 [+ or -] 0.7      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1

Cuts          Tail          2.1 [+ or -] 0.4      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1
              Sirloin cut   0.6 [+ or -] 0.2      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1
              Back fillet   0.6 [+ or -] 0.1      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1
              Thigh         0.6 [+ or -] 0.2      1.3 [+ or -] 0.1


Interaction                 <0.0001               0.0170
Sex                         <0.0001               0.8261
Cuts                        <0.0001               0.0067

Data expressed in mean [+ or -] standard deviation. Means followed
by different lowercase letters are significantly different by two-way
analysis of variance followed by Tukey's test (P<0.05).

Table 3--Major fatty acids (%) identified in commercial cuts
of the meat of Pantanal caiman (Caiman crocodilusyacare).

                                       Commercial cut

                          Tail   Sirloin cut   Back fillet   Thigh

Palmitic acid (16:0)      24.6      30.1          34.3       25.8
Stearic acid (18:0)       20.4      17.4          15.3       21.6
Oleic acid (18:1n-9)      42.1      23.5          13.3       24.0
Linoleic acid (18:2n-6)   6.1       13.1          10.7       4.75
Timnodonic acid--EPA      0.7       13.7          11.6       15.6
[SIGMA]SFA                47.4      49.8          49.5       47.3
[SIGMA]MUFA               45.2      23.5          13.3       26.6
[SIGMA]PUFA               7.4       26.8          37.1       26.1
PUFA/SFA                  0.2        0.5           0.8        0.6
n-3                       1.3       13.7          26.4       21.3
n-6                       6.1       13.1          10.7        4.8
n6/n3                     4.6        1.0           0.4        0.2

[SIGMA]SFA = Sum of saturated fatty acids; [SIGMA]MUFA = Sum of
monounsaturated fatty acids; [SIGMA]PUFA = Sum of polyunsaturated
fatty acids; PUFA/SFA = Ratio between polyunsaturated and saturated
fatty acids; n-3 = Sum of fatty acids of the n-3 series; n-6 = sum
of fatty acids of the n-6 series.

Table 4--Lightness (L), chroma [a.sup.*] (red-green component)
and [b.sup.*] (yellow-blue component) of commercial meat cuts
of Pantanal caiman (Caiman crocodilus yacare).

Sex           Cortes        L                    [a.sup.*]

Male          Tail          50.6 [+ or -] 5.3    -0.1 [+ or -] 1.5
              Sirloin cut   52.6 [+ or -] 6.3    -0.6 [+ or -] 1.0
              Back fillet   51.2 [+ or -] 8.6    1.3 [+ or -] 2.3
              Thigh         52.8 [+ or -] 8.4    2.0 [+ or -] 1.3
Female        Tail          50.7 [+ or -] 7.0    -0.03 [+ or -] 2.3
              Sirloin cut   52.1 [+ or -] 5.9    -0.9 [+ or -] 0.9
              Back fillet   50.9 [+ or -] 8.0    0.7 [+ or -] 1.5
              Thigh         53.7 [+ or -] 8.7    2.0 [+ or -] 2.1


Sex           Male          51.8 [+ or -] 3.4    0.6 [+ or -] 1.3
              Female        51.8 [+ or -] 3.4    0.4 [+ or -] 1.4
Cuts          Tail          50.7 [+ or -] 3.3    -0,1 [+ or -] 0.9 bc
              Sirloin cut   52.4 [+ or -] 3.4    -0,8 [+ or -] 0.5 c
              Back fillet   51.1 [+ or -] 3.6    1.0 [+ or -] 1.0 ab
              Thigh         53. 2 [+ or -] 3.2   2.0 [+ or -] 0.8 a


Sex                         0.9759               0.4998
Cuts                        0.4822               <0.0001
Interaction                 0.9790               0.8528

Sex           Cortes        [B.sup.*]

Male          Tail          7.8 [+ or -] 2.4
              Sirloin cut   6.5 [+ or -] 2.3
              Back fillet   7.8 [+ or -] 2.2
              Thigh         5.7 [+ or -] 4.3
Female        Tail          4.8 [+ or -] 2.7
              Sirloin cut   5.3 [+ or -] 1.7
              Back fillet   4.8 [+ or -] 2.5
              Thigh         6.6 [+ or -] 4.7


Sex           Male          6.9 [+ or -] 1.7 a
              Female        5.4 [+ or -] 1.5 b
Cuts          Tail          6.3 [+ or -] 2.2
              Sirloin cut   5.9 [+ or -] 0.9
              Back fillet   6.3 [+ or -] 1.8
              Thigh         6.1 [+ or -] 2.1


Sex                         0.0076
Cuts                        0.9503
Interaction                 0.0578

Data expressed in mean [+ or -] standard deviation. Means followed
by different lowercase letters are significantly different by
Tukey's test (P<0.01).
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Fernandes, Vitoria Regina Takeuchi; de Souza, Maria Luiza Rodrigues; Gasparino, Eliane; Coutinho, Ma
Publication:Ciencia Rural
Date:Feb 1, 2017
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