Ireland has good reason to market its dairy produce as having better colour, flavour, nutritional value and appearance than products from other countries, new research findings suggest.
The research, carried out by scientists at Teagasc and the University College Cork based APC Microbiome Institute, found milk and dairy produce from grass and clover-fed cows has significantly greater concentrations of fat, protein and casein.
"In particular, milk from pasture-fed cows [grass or clover] has significantly higher concentrations of healthy fatty acids," said Tom O'Callaghan, PhD student at Teagasc and lead author on the study.
"These differences are reflected in butter produced from pasture-fed cows being superior in appearance, flavour and colour as confirmed by sensory panel data."
"Pasture-derived butter is also nutritionally superior for heart health with lower atherogenecity scores and containing significantly higher concentrations of CLA (c9t11), a healthy fatty acid and β-carotene which gives the butter a lovely golden colour."
Ireland's dairy cows are predominately raised on open pasture, differentiating them and their produce from herds in most other countries which are fed on a variety of different food types inside.
The difference has been capitalised on by authorities here including Bord Bia, which runs an "Origin Green" campaign.
The researchers will now move forward with the intention of showing that the better quality of the produce has a measurable impact on the health of those consuming it through clinical based research.
The Teagasc, Science Foundation Ireland and the Dairy Research Trust-funded research is published in two papers in the Journal of Dairy Science.