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The content of L‐carnitine in meat after different methods of heat treatment

Seline Knüttel‐Gustavsen (Department of Physiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Hanover, Germany)
Johein Harmeyer (Department of Physiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, Hanover, Germany)

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




The objective of this study is to examine the effects of pan‐frying, boiling and cooking in a microwave on the amount of L‐carnitine in meat and to look at its distribution in the surrounding fluid after food processing.


Total carnitine, free carnitine and acylcarnitines were determined in meat samples from beef, pork and poultry (including ostrich) and in a liver sample from beef. The measurements were carried out before and after the specimens were subjected to different heat treatments. A radio‐enzymatic assay was used for measurement of L‐carnitine. Results are expressed per 100 gram dry matter and per 100 gram wet weight.


Except for pan‐frying, virtually no losses of carnitine occurred during the different procedures of heat treatment. During boiling and microwaving, however, a considerable portion of the tissue carnitine escaped into the water fraction. With pan‐frying, carnitine losses from meat amounted to from 3 to 36 per cent. In all animal species, tissue losses of L‐carnitine increased with increase of boiling time. When expressed as a percentage of total carnitine, the proportion of carnitine present as esters differed somewhat between different heating procedures but showed no typical pattern.


The findings of this study show the important role that meat products play for providing an adequate amount of L‐carnitine in humans who are suffering from carnitine deficiency and an exogenous supplementation is needed.



Knüttel‐Gustavsen, S. and Harmeyer, J. (2011), "The content of L‐carnitine in meat after different methods of heat treatment", British Food Journal, Vol. 113 No. 9, pp. 1114-1126.



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