Conjugated linoleic acid has been reported to reduce whole body fat accretion by repartioning fat and lean tissue. Additional interest in CLA surrounds its reported antioxidative and anticarcinogenic properties, which have been implicated in human-health benefits.

As a result, there has been interest in increasing the CLA contents of pork, says J. Radcliffe, animal scientist at Purdue University.  Fresh pork normally contains a small amount of CLA, around 0.6 mg per gram of fat.

Prior research has demonstrated that this level is increased by feeding 1 percent to 5 percent CLA as a dietary supplement for four weeks prior to slaughter, says Radcliffe. The researchers also observed an increase in intramuscular fat, but this effect was only significant in pigs fed diets with 5 percent CLA.

In other research, increasing the length of CLA supplementation resulted in a linear decrease in carcass backfat, and linear increases in loin muscle and percent lean. An increase in CLA content of the loin muscle was observed with CLA supplementation. In addition, the saturated fatty acid content of the loin increased, while the polyunsaturated fatty acid content decreased, says Radcliffe.