The trans (t)-18:1 content in beef has become more of interest as partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are removed from foods. Predicting t-18:1 early in the feeding period would be useful if limitations are put on t-18:1 in beef. To determine which blood component is better related to backfat, proportions of t10-18:1 and t11-18:1 (vaccenic acid) were measured in heifer red blood cells (RBC) and plasma (N = 14) after 0, 28, 56, and 76 d on a barley-grain-based diet, and correlated with post-slaughter subcutaneous fat (SCF). Total t-18:1 declined in both RBC and plasma during late finishing (P < 0.05). At 28 d, t11-18:1 decreased and t10-18:1 increased in RBC and plasma (P < 0.05). By 76 d, t10-18:1 declined to 0 d levels. RBC and plasma t-18:1 compositions were highly correlated (t10-18:1, r ≥ 0.7, P ≤ 0.02; t11-18:1, r ≥ 0.51, P ≤ 0.06). Correlations with post-slaughter backfat were, however, consistently greater for RBC compared with plasma. The use of RBC t-18:1 composition may, therefore, be superior to plasma for predicting t-18:1 in SCF, and the length of finishing could be useful for manipulating t-18:1 in beef. The time required for changes in t18:1 in RBC to reflect in changes in SCF still, however, needs to be determined to establish optimal durations for beneficial modification.
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