Environmental Management and Sustainability

UC Davis Research – Determining the prevalence of Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli in manure of dairy lagoons. Pandey P, Gaa ME, Huo J, Okada Y, Lee KY, Giat S, Li X, Zhang R, Pandey P. J Appl Microbiol. 2024 Apr 25:lxae103.

  • Dairy manure is regularly applied to crop fields as a solid or liquid to improve the soil nutrient status. However, pathogens may survive during manure storage and enter the environment during application.
  • The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of microbial pathogens in manure of dairy lagoons in California.
  • To determine pathogens in dairy manure stored in anaerobic lagoons of dairy farm, an extensive field study was conducted across California to sample manure from 20 dairy farms. Samples were analyzed to determine the prevalence of indicator E. coli, Shiga toxin producing E. coli (STEC), Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7. To test the E. coli, STEC, and Salmonella.
  • The study demonstrated that the prevalence of Salmonella in manure sample is lower than E. coli. The presence of Salmonella was found in 2.26% of the samples, and both the culture-based and PCR methods yielded comparable outcomes in detecting Salmonella. Moreover, approximately 11.30% of the total samples out of the 177 were identified as positive for STEC.
  • These findings demonstrate that indicator E. coli is abundantly present in anaerobic lagoons. However, the presence of STEC, and Salmonella is substantially low.

Modeling the environmental impacts of Asparagopsis as feed, a cow toilet and slurry acidification in two synthetic dairy farms. Méité R, Bayer L, Martin M, Amon B, Uthes S. Heliyon. 2024 Apr 13;10(9):e29389

  • Intensive dairy farming, particularly enteric fermentation and manure management, is a major contributor to negative impacts on the local and global environment. A wide range of abatement measures has been proposed to reduce livestock-related emissions, yet the individual and combined effects of these innovations are often unknown.
  • In this study, we performed an attributional life cycle assessment of three innovative measures modeled in two synthetic German dairy farm systems: Feeding of the seaweed Asparagopsis, installing an in-house cow toilet system, and performing on-field slurry acidification.
  • The results showed that feeding high levels of Asparagopsisand the combination of all three measures were most effective at reducing global warming potential (20-30 %), while only the latter mitigated eutrophication (6-9%) and acidification potential (14-17 %).
  • The cow toilet required additional adapted manure management (separated storage and injection of urine) to effectively reduce eutrophication (8-10 %) and acidification potential (19-23 %) and to decrease global warming potential (3-4%) and abiotic depletion (4-5%).
  • Slurry acidification slightly affected all considered environmental impact categories.
  • All three measures involved trade-offs, either between LCA impact categories (global warming potential vs. abiotic depletion), the location of impacts (off- vs. on-farm), or the emission reduction in individual gases (ammonia vs. nitrous oxide). Measure combinations could compensate for the observed trade-offs.
  • This study highlights the potential of novel abatement measures but also shows the interdependencies of measures in different stages. This calls for a revisiting of current priorities in funding and legislation, which often focus on single objectives and measures (e.g. ammonia reduction) toward the preferential use of measures that are effective without driving trade-offs or improving resource efficiency.

How the type of dairy production system affects the nutrient balance from an environmental and economic perspective. Palhares JCP, Carra SHZ, Ebert L, Giacomello CP, Drastig K. Sci Total Environ. 2024 Apr 28:172835.

  • The knowledge of nutrient flow in dairy farms has to be explored to find optimized strategies for efficient nutrient conversion to milk.
  • This study aims to improve the understanding of variances in nitrogen and phosphorus balance and efficiency indicators between dairy farm systems.
  • The study analyzed 67 dairy cattle farms located in the watershed Lajeado Tacongava, Rio Grande do Sul State, Brazil. Selected dairy farms represented three production systems: confined (3 farms); semi-confined (7 farms); pasture-based (57 farms). Input-output nutrient balances were calculated at the dairy system level for nitrogen and phosphorus over a year. Inputs are feed and fertilizer and outputs are milk and meat.
  • The main nitrogen and phosphorus input on the all farms resulted from the feed. The average N and P surplus on pasture-based farms were 352 and 49 kg ha-1year-1, respectively. In semi-confined systems were 508 and 63 kg ha-1 year-1 and in confined systems were 786 and 70 kg ha-1 year-1.
  • When considering the monetary value of the total N surplus, the averages were US$ 2.615, 4.950, and 12.171 for pasture-based, semi-confined and confined systems respectively. Monetary values of P surplus were US$ 346, 588, and 1119 for pasture-based, semi-confined and confined. The productive aspects that most determined the values of N and P surplus were the total number of lactating cows and the farm area.
  • Results indicate that surplus can partially replace chemical nitrogen fertilizer, except in the confined system, and fully replace phosphorus fertilizer. Confined farms presented values to use surplus as fertilizer greater than the crop demand. For the other production systems, it happens only for phosphorus.
  • Large variability between dairy farms of the same production system and between different production systems was observed. It reflects the inherent productive, economic, and environmental conditions of each farm and system.

Working with cattle slurry on farms: emission and dispersion of hydrogen sulfide gas during stirring. Gyte A, Kelsey A. Ann Work Expo Health. 2024 Apr 22;68(4):387-396.

  • Over the past 15 years, there have been numerous fatalities related to working with animal slurry. Working with cattle slurry releases toxic gases, in particular, hydrogen sulphide (H2S), which can cause acute central nervous system toxicity, breathing difficulties, and death if exposed to high concentrations.
  • Real-time measurements of H2S gas were taken over distance and time, during the stirring of cattle slurry on farms. Gas was measured at eight slurry stores with differing typical configurations of indoor or outdoor stores and with or without slatted flooring.
  • Highest H2S gas levels were measured from indoor stores under slatted floors, and generally at positions closest to the stirrer or the point of maximum stirring, with levels decreasing with distance from source. Most of the data indicate H2S gas levels increase very rapidly after stirring starts, and mostly decline to baseline levels within 30 min post start of stirring.
  • There were, however, circumstances where gas levels remained high and only started to decline once the stirrer had stopped. H2S gas levels at all farms, at all positions measured were consistently below 10 ppm within 30 min of the stirrer being stopped.
  • The current data highlight areas of the farm and ways of working that have the potential for workers and others to be at risk of exposure to toxic slurry gases. The area should be left to ventilate naturally for at least 30 min after the stirrer has been stopped before re-entering buildings. Influencing the design of stirring equipment and future slurry stores would likely reduce the risk of worker exposure to slurry gases.

Meta-analysis addressing the potential of antibiotic resistance gene elimination through aerobic composting. Wang H, Wang X, Zhang L, Zhang X, Cao Y, Xiao R, Bai Z, Ma L. Waste Manag. 2024 Apr 25;182:197-206.

  • The significant increase in antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in organic solid wastes (OSWs) has emerged as a major threat to the food chain. Aerobic composting is a widely used technology for OSW management, with the potential to influence the fate of AGRs. However, the variability of the ARG elimination effects reported in different studies has highlighted the uncertainty regarding the effects of composting on ARGs.
  • To identify the potential of composting in reducing ARG and the factors (e.g., composting technologies and physiochemical properties) influence ARG changes, a meta-analysis was conducted with a database including 4,232 observations.
  • The abundances of ARGs and mobile genetic elements (MGEs) can be substantially reduced by 74.3% and 78.8%, respectively, via aerobic composting. During composting, the ARG levels in chicken and swine manure tended to be reduced more significantly (81.7% and 78.0%) compared to those in cattle manure (52.3%) and sewage sludge (32.6%).
  • The reduction rate of sulfonamide resistant genes was only 35.3%, which was much lower than those of other types. MGEs and composting duration (CD) were identified as the most important factors driving ARG changes during composting.
  • These findings provide a comprehensive insight into the effects of composting on ARG reduction, which may help prevent the transmission in food systems.

Understanding vermicompost and organic manure interactions: impact on toxic elements, nitrification activity, comammox Nitrospira inopinata, and archaea/bacteria. Huda N, Rana MR, Huq MA, Al-Mamun A, Rahman ST, Alam MK, Rahman MM.Environ Monit Assess. 2024;196(4):355.

  • Vermicompost is a substantial source of nutrients, promotes soil fertility, and maintains or increases soil organic matter levels. Potentially toxic elements (PTEs) in vermicompost impact on nitrification activity. However, it is yet unknown how vermicompost affects nitrifying bacteria and archaea, comammox Nitrospira inopinata (complete ammonia oxidizers), net nitrification rates (NNRs), and PTEs.
  • The effects of vermicompost application on NNRs, potential nitrification rates (NPs), PTEs, and the abundances of comammox N. inopinata bacteria, nitrite-oxidizing bacteria (NOB), and ammonia-oxidizing bacteria (AOB)/archaea (AOA) were studied.
  • NNRs and NPs were significantly higher in fresh cow-dung vermicompost (stored for 40 days) as compared with other organic manure. The level of PTEs (Cu2+, Fe2+, Pb2+, Cd2+, and Zn2+) was significantly lower in vermicompost as compared with compost of waste material with Trichoderma and cow dung. Comammox N. inopinata, NOB, AOB, and AOA were significantly higher in stored cow-dung vermicompost (more than 1 year) as compared with other organic manure.
  • The results of the scatterplot matrix analysis suggested that Fe2+, total nitrogen (TN), soil organic carbon (SOC), and total carbon (TC) were linearly correlated with NNRs and NPs in vermicompost and organic manure. Similarly, comammox N. inopinata bacteria, NOB, AOB, and AOA were linearly correlated with NNR and NP.
  • These results indicated that vermicompost promoted nitrification activity by increasing microbial diversity and abundance, supplying nutrients and organic matter for microbial growth, and facilitating complex microbial interactions.
  • It may be concluded that the influence of vermicompost, which played a great role in PTE concentration reduction, increased chemical, and biological properties, increased the growth rate of nitrifying bacteria/archaea and the nitrogen cycle.

Effects of micro-nano bubble water addition on maturation degree and microbial community during aerobic composting. Li M, Qin Z, Duan M, Wang Q, Zhou B, Weng H. Chemosphere. 2024 Apr;353:141657.

  • The agriculture industry has developed rapidly in China but the pollution caused by solid agricultural waste is a major problem. At present, the output of livestock and poultry manure in China is about 3.8 billion tons/year, and more than 40% of the manure is directly discharged without effective treatment, thereby polluting soil and water. Thus, how to develop and utilize solid waste in a scientific and effective manner has become an important issue in the development of sustainable agriculture.
  • In order to explore the effects of micro-nano bubble water (MNBW) on compost maturation and the microbial community in cow manure and straw during aerobic composting, researchers conducted composting tests using tap water with 12 mg/L (O12), 15 mg/L (O15), 18 mg/L (O18), and 21 mg/L (O21) dissolved oxygen in MNBW, as well as tap water with 9 mg/L dissolved oxygen as a control (CK).
  • The results showed that O21 increased the maximum compost temperature to 64 °C, which was higher than the other treatments. All treatments met the harmless standards for compost. The seed germination index (GI) was largest under O21 and 15.1% higher than that under CK, and the non-toxic compost degree was higher.
  • Redundancy analysis showed that the temperature, C/N, pH, and GI were important factors that affected the microbial community composition. The temperature, C/N, and pH were significantly positively correlated with Firmicutes and Actinobacteria. Firmicutes was the dominant phylum in the mesophilic stage (2-6 days) and it accounted for a large proportion under O21, where the strong thermophilic metabolism increased the production of heat and prolonged the high temperature period.
  • The bacterial genus Ammoniibacillus in Firmicutes accounted for a large proportion under O21 and it accelerated the decomposition of substrates. Therefore, the addition of MNBW changed the microbial community to affect the maturation of the compost, and the quality of the compost was higher under O21.

DairyCoPilot-Automated data compilation and analysis tools for DairyComp data assets. Aravamuthan S, Dopfer D, Walleser E. PLoS One. 2024 Apr 18;19(4):e0297827.

  • Modern dairy farm management requires meaningful data and careful analysis to maximize profitability, cow health, and welfare. Current data platforms, such as DairyComp, lack robust integrated data analysis tools.
  • Producers and consultants need dedicated tools to turn collected data sets into assets for informed decision-making processes.
  • The DairyCoPilot app allows users to rapidly extract health and production data from DairyComp, then compile and analyze the data using a menu-driven point-and-click approach.
  • Prospects for training consultants in applied data analysis skills make DairyCoPilot a tool to identify farm management bottlenecks with less time spent for data analysis, improving cow health, and dairy production.
  • The DairyCoPilot Dashboard R Shiny application is published using RStudio Connect: https://connect.doit.wisc.edu/dairy-copilot/.
Animal Health and Food Safety

Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Clade 2.3.4.4b Virus Infection in Domestic Dairy Cattle and Cats, United States, 2024. Burrough ER, Magstadt DR, Petersen B, Timmermans SJ, Gauger PC, Zhang J, Siepker C, Mainenti M, Li G, Thompson AC, Gorden PJ, Plummer PJ, Main R. Emerg Infect Dis. 2024 Apr 29;30(7).

  • Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses pose a threat to wild birds and poultry globally, and HPAI H5N1 viruses are of even greater concern because of their frequent spillover into mammals. In late 2021, the Eurasian strain of H5N1 (clade 2.3.4.4b) was detected in North America and initiated an outbreak that continued into 2024. Spillover detections and deaths from this clade have been reported in both terrestrial and marine mammals in the United States. The detection of HPAI H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b virus in severe cases of human disease in Ecuador and Chile raises further concerns regarding the pandemic potential of specific HPAI viruses.
  • Herein, researchers report highly pathogenic avian influenza A(H5N1) virus in dairy cattle and cats in Kansas and Texas, United States, which reflects the continued spread of clade 2.3.4.4b viruses that entered the country in late 2021. Infected cattle experienced nonspecific illness, reduced feed intake and rumination, and an abrupt drop in milk production, but fatal systemic influenza infection developed in domestic cats fed raw (unpasteurized) colostrum and milk from affected cows.
  • Cow-to-cow transmission appears to have occurred because infections were observed in cattle on Michigan, Idaho, and Ohio farms where avian influenza virus-infected cows were transported. Although the US Food and Drug Administration has indicated the commercial milk supply remains safe, the detection of influenza virus in unpasteurized bovine milk is a concern because of potential cross-species transmission.
  • Continued surveillance of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses in domestic production animals is needed to prevent cross-species and mammal-to-mammal transmission.

Dairy calf transportation in the United States: Challenges and strategies to improve animal welfare. Cramer MC, Pempek JA, Román-Muñiz IN, Edwards-Callaway LN. JDS Commun. 2023 Nov 17;5(3):259-263

  • An important animal welfare concern across the US dairy industry is the transportation of preweaning calves from the source dairy to a calf-raising facility (e.g., calf ranches, heifer raising facilities, veal operations), auction, livestock market, or directly to slaughter. Millions of calves are transported annually in the United States and calf transport has garnered increased attention.
  • The objectives of this symposium review are to summarize relevant research and key welfare issues relative to calf transportation and identify strategies to mitigate welfare challenges.
  • Transportation stressors include limited (if any) access to food and water, commingling, environmental temperature changes, and a variety of handling techniques. Calves in the United States are often transported at an average age of 3 days, and in many cases, less than 24 hours of age.
  • Neonates are particularly vulnerable to transportation stressors due to their decreased ability to thermoregulate, underdeveloped immune system, and immature physiologic stress responses. In addition to age, fitness for transport is a key welfare consideration; recent data from the United States demonstrate that some source dairies transport compromised calves (i.e., dehydration, diarrhea, navel inflammation, and so on), leading to important welfare challenges during transportation.
  • Calves arriving at US veal facilities have been reported to be dehydrated, lethargic, hypoglycemic, and may also have poor body condition, navel inflammation, and diarrhea. Thus, there is ample opportunity to target decision-making and producer-focused education not only at the source dairy, but also at each stage of transportation to address critical welfare concerns. In addition, the supply chain and procurement model that influence calf transport practices should be evaluated to determine potential opportunities to improve calf welfare.
  • Here, researchers provide 5 potential strategies to improve the welfare of transported calves: (1) provide excellent newborn care that “preconditions” calves for transport, (2) assess calves’ fitness-for-transport to ensure they can withstand the journey, (3) handle calves with care, (4) wait until calves are older to transport, and (5) reduce transport duration.

A randomized controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of systemic ceftiofur administration for metritis therapy in dairy cows and the effect of metritis cure on economically important outcomes. Menta PR, Fernandes L, Prim J, De Oliveira E, Lima F, Galvão KN, Noyes N, Ballou MA, Machado VS. J Dairy Sci. 2024 Apr 18:S0022-0302(24)00754-9.

  • Metritis is a prevalent polymicrobial postpartum uterine disease that affects 15 – 40% of dairy cows. Metritis is associated with impaired reproductive performance, increased pregnancy losses, anovulation, and increased calving-to-conception interval. Cows affected by metritis produce less milk early in lactation.
  • Moreover, due to the losses in production and reproductive performance, metritis is associated with an increased risk of culling. Because of these losses and additional costs related to veterinary care and antibiotic therapy, the metritis economic burden is calculated to range between $267 and $410 per case. Antimicrobial drugs are commonly used for metritis therapy. Ceftiofur, a third-generation cephalosporin, is the most commonly used drug for metritis therapy in North America.
  • The main objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of ceftiofur on metritis cure, milk yield, reproductive performance, and culling up to 300 DIM. The secondary objective was to evaluate the effect of metritis cure at 5 (ECURE) and 14 (LCURE) d after diagnosis on milk production, reproduction, and culling.
  • A total of 422 Holstein cows diagnosed with metritis from 4 herds located in TX, CA, and FL were enrolled in a randomized clinical trial. Cows diagnosed with metritis (fetid, watery, reddish/brownish uterine discharge) were blocked by herd and parity and were randomly allocated to receive systemic administration of ceftiofur (CEF) or to remain untreated (CON). In addition, 399 non-metritic cows (NMET) were included for comparison purposes.
  • Metritis cure was evaluated at 5 and 14 days after diagnosis and was defined as the absence of metritis clinical signs.
  • Cows treated with CEF had 1.86 and 1.68 greater odds of being cured than CON cows at 5 and 14 d after diagnosis, respectively. No effect of CEF was observed for milk yield; however, NMET cows had greater milk yield compared with metritic cows. Likewise, no effect of CEF was observed on reproductive performance and culling. Nonetheless, the likelihood of conceiving for NMET cows was 1.72 and 1.64 times greater than for CEF and CON cows, respectively.
  • Ceftiofur-treated and CON cows had 2.93 and 2.37 greater hazard of culling compared with NMET, respectively. Regardless of treatment, no differences between ECURE and LCURE were observed on milk yield, reproduction, and culling throughout the entire lactation, but cows that cured at 5 or 14 days after diagnosis had greater milk production in the first 60 DIM compared with cows that did not cure (NCURE).
  • Cows in ECURE and LCURE also had a 1.59 and 1.49 greater hazard of pregnancy and 0.43 and 0.56 hazard of culling compared with NCURE. Ceftiofur therapy increased metritis cure, but benefits to productivity and longevity were not observed. Also, cows that fail to cure have impaired lactation performance, but no differences regarding timing of cure were observed.

Harnessing Vaginal Probiotics for Enhanced Management of Uterine Disease and Reproductive Performance in Dairy Cows: A Conceptual Review. Adnane M, Whiston R, Tasara T, Bleul U, Chapwanya A. Animals (Basel). 2024 Apr 1;14(7):1073.

  • Uterine disease in cattle impairs reproductive performance and profitability and increases antibiotic use and antimicrobial resistance. Thus, probiotics offer a promising alternative therapy.
  • This review presents conceptual findings on the efficacy of probiotics in managing uterine diseases and fertility in cows. Probiotics containing Lactobacillus And Bifidobacterium spp. individually or as composite formulations are known to improve fertility.
  • Strategic intravaginal administration of these formulations would likely enhance uterine immunity, particularly during the postpartum period.
  • While current findings on the benefits to uterine health are encouraging, there is still significant knowledge missing, including a lack of empirical information from large-scale field trials.
  • This review underscores the need for evidence-based guidelines for probiotics, such as genomic selection of formulations, targeted delivery, or potential synergy with other interventions. Future research should address these gaps to maximize the potential of probiotics in managing uterine diseases and enhancing the reproductive health of dairy cattle. 

Longitudinal dynamics of farmer and livestock nasal and faecal microbiomes and resistomes.  Mahmud B, Vargas RC, Dantas G, et al. Nat Microbiol. 2024 Apr;9(4):1007-1020.

  • Globally, half a billion people are employed in animal agriculture and are directly exposed to the associated microorganisms. However, the extent to which such exposures affect resident human microbiomes is unclear.
  • Here researchers conducted a longitudinal profiling of the nasal and fecal microbiomes of 66 dairy farmers and 166 dairy cows over a year-long period. They compared farmer microbiomes to those of 60 age-, sex- and ZIP code-matched people with no occupational exposures to farm animals (non-farmers).
  • The results show that farming is associated with microbiomes containing livestock-associated microbes; this is most apparent in the nasal bacterial community, with farmers harboring a richer and more diverse nasal community than non-farmers. Similarly, in the gut microbial communities, the researchers identified more shared microbial lineages between cows and farmers from the same farms.
  • Additionally, they found that shared microbes are associated with antibiotic resistance genes. Overall, this study demonstrates the interconnectedness of human and animal microbiomes.
Human Health and Nutrition

Opportunities for Consistent and Holistic Metrics to Support Food Systems Transformation: A Summary of a Symposium Presented at Nutrition 2023. Unger AL, Beal T, Conrad Z, Pikosky MA, Brown K. Curr Dev Nutr. 2024 Mar 5;8(4):102129.

  • There is an urgent need for global food systems transformation to realize a future where planetary health reaches its full potential. Paramount to this vision is the ability of stakeholders across sectors to understand how foods and dietary patterns impact food systems inclusive of all domains of sustainability-environmental, nutrition/health, economic and social.
  • This article is a synopsis of presentations by 3 food systems experts to share the latest science in a session entitled “How do you measure sustainability? Opportunities for consistent and holistic metrics to support food systems transformation” at the American Society for Nutrition’s 2023 annual conference.
  • As summarized here, global population data showing widespread malnutrition underscore the important role of dietary diversity through a balance of plant- and animal-source foods to achieve nutritionally adequate diets and reduce risk of noncommunicable diseases.
  • Yet, recent international audits of countries, companies, and organizations and their sustainability targets largely demonstrate an underrepresentation of robust nutrition/health metrics to support public nutrition and health progress.
  • Addressing limitations in diet-sustainability modeling systems provides a viable opportunity to accurately reflect the important contributions and trade-offs of diets across all domains of sustainability to ultimately support evidence-based decision making in advancing healthy food systems.

Whole milk dairy foods and cardiometabolic health: dairy fat and beyond. Pokala A, Kraft J, Taormina VM, Michalski MC, Vors C, Torres-Gonzalez M, Bruno RS. Nutr Res. 2024 Mar 21;126:99-122.

  • Bovine dairy milk is a nutrient-rich matrix, but consumption of full-fat dairy food varieties has been claimed historically to be associated with poorer cardiometabolic health, a notion often attributed to the saturated fat content. However, continued investigation that includes observational studies and randomized controlled trials (RCTs) provide evidence that favorably supports full-fat dairy foods and their bioactive components on cardiometabolic health.
  • This review addresses this controversy by examining the evidence surrounding full-fat dairy foods and their implications for human health.
  • Dairy foods are heterogeneous, not just in their fat content but also in other compositional aspects within and between fermented (e.g., yogurt, cheese) and nonfermented products (e.g., milk) that could differentially influence cardiometabolic health. Drawing from complementary lines of evidence from epidemiological studies and RCTs, this review describes the health effects of dairy foods regarding their fat content, as well as their polar lipids that are concentrated in the milk fat globule fraction.
  • Observational studies have limitedly supported the consumption of full-fat dairy to protect against cardiometabolic disorders. However, this framework has been disputed by RCTs indicating that dairy foods, regardless of their fat content or fermentation, are not detrimental to cardiometabolic health and may instead alleviate certain cardiometabolic risk factors.
  • As dietary recommendations evolve, which currently indicate to avoid full-fat dairy foods, it is essential to consider the totality of evidence, especially from RCTs, while also recognizing that investigation is needed to evaluate the complexity of dairy foods within diverse dietary patterns and their impacts on cardiometabolic health.

Replacement of saturated fatty acids from meat by dairy sources in relation to incident cardiovascular disease: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)-Norfolk study. Vogtschmidt YD, Soedamah-Muthu SS, Imamura F, Givens DI, Lovegrove JA. Am J Clin Nutr. 2024 Apr 11:S0002-9165(24)00397-6.

  • Prospective observational data revealed lower cardiovascular disease (CVD) incidence with modeled replacement of saturated fatty acids (SFAs) from total meat by total dairy, but it is unknown what the associations are of replacing SFA from types of meat by types of dairy with CVD incidence.
  • This study aimed to investigate the associations of replacing SFAs from total, red, processed, and poultry meat by SFAs from total dairy, milk, cheese, and yogurt with the incidence of CVD.
  • Researchers analyzed longitudinal data from 21,841 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk study (56.4% female; age, 40-79 years). Dietary data were collected by food frequency questionnaires at baseline (1993-1997). Incident fatal or nonfatal CVD (n = 5902), coronary artery disease (CAD; n = 4215), stroke (total: n = 2544; ischemic: n = 1113; hemorrhagic: n = 449) were identified up to 2018.
  • Replacing SFAs from total meat by total dairy was associated with a lower CVD incidence (HR: 0.89) and CAD (HR: 0.88). Replacing SFAs from processed meat by cheese was associated with lower CVD (HR: 0.77); CAD (HR: 0.77), and stroke (HR: 0.81). Similarly, replacing SFAs from red meat by cheese was associated with lower CVD (HR: 0.86).
  • Higher incidence of stroke was found with replacement of SFAs from poultry by milk (HR: 2.06), yogurt (HR: 2.55), or cheese (HR: 1.96), but the CIs were relatively large owing to low, narrow range of poultry SFA intakes.
  • Findings indicate that different SFA-rich foods at baseline have differential associations with CVD risk. If confirmed by further studies, these findings could be used to inform specific food-based dietary guidance.

Lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet is inversely associated with the osteosarcopenia in older adults. Huang R, Hu J, Li Y, Yang S, Li X, Hou T, Ning Z, Ma C, Yuan X, Wang Z, Zhang T, Wang D. BMC Geriatr. 2024 Apr 11;24(1):332.

  • Recently, an emerging and unique geriatric syndrome, osteosarcopenia, has been investigated. It is characterized by low bone mineral density and sarcopenia, and it significantly increases the risk of fractures, falls, and mortality. As the world population ages, the prevalence of osteosarcopenia will inevitably increase, leading to frailty, fractures, falls, hospitalization, and deaths.
  • Therefore, researchers sought to explore the association between dietary patterns and osteosarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults.
  • This was a cross-sectional study from Northeast China, that included older community adults aged 60 and above. Through face-to-face interviews, researchers collected dietary information from participants using a food frequency questionnaire.
  • In this study, a total of 9429 participants were included, and the prevalence of osteosarcopenia in community-dwelling older adults was 6.2%. There were three main dietary patterns identified , and the lacto-ovo-vegetarian dietary pattern was inversely associated with osteosarcopenia.
  • Compared to the lowest lacto-ovo-vegetarian quartile (Q1), the Q4 group (OR = 0.64) was inversely associated with osteosarcopenia. Researchers also found that the overall effect of the lacto-ovo-vegetarian dietary components was inversely associated with osteosarcopenia (OR = 0.58); the largest contributors were vegetables, fresh milk, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Overall, this study showed that a lacto-ovo-vegetarian dietary pattern, particularly the consumption of vegetables, fresh milk, eggs, and dairy products, was inversely associated with osteosarcopenia in older adults. And this might provide new insights for the prevention and treatment of osteosarcopenia.

Cow milk is an important source of iodine for prenatal health, and switching to plant-based milk can lead to iodine insufficiencies. Lundquist H, Hess J, Comeau M, Slavin J. JDS Commun. 2024 Feb 1;5(3):181-184.

  • Iodine insufficiencies are common among many populations, particularly pregnant women. One of the main functions of iodine is making thyroid hormone. The 2 main hormones that iodine influences are triiodothyronine and thyroxine. Thyroid hormone affects metabolism of most tissues.
  • For the average adult, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150 µg. During certain stages of life, such as pregnancy, lactation, and infancy, the importance of iodine is even greater as it supports brain, bone, and organ development.
  • The RDA for iodine during pregnancy is 220 µg and, during breastfeeding, the RDA is 290 µg. Consuming enough iodine in the diet during pregnancy helps support fetal neurodevelopment.
  • Iodine is found in several food sources such as seafood and iodized salt; however, dairy products are one of the major sources of iodine in American diets. It is important to note that only bovine milk products are rich in this mineral. One cup of milk provides 39% and 57% of the daily iodine needs for the average adult woman and pregnant woman, respectively.
  • As the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommend limiting sodium intake, which includes iodized salt, dairy may be an especially important source of iodine. However, according to the USDA, about 90% of the US population does not meet the dairy recommendations presented in the DGA.
  • In recent years, plant-based diets have received a lot of attention. A market for plant-based milk alternatives has grown and includes a variety of options such as almond, soy, and oat milk. Plant-based milks do not naturally contain iodine and are typically not fortified with iodine.
  • Women of childbearing age who drink plant-based milks instead of cow milk have lower urinary iodine concentrations than women who consume cow milk. This review will focus on the importance of iodine in the diet to support prenatal health, lactation, and infant health.

Polar lipids modify Alzheimer’s Disease pathology by reducing astrocyte pro-inflammatory signaling through platelet-activating factor receptor (PTAFR) modulation. Hans S, Stanton JE, Grabrucker AM, et al. Lipids Health Dis. 2024 Apr 20;23(1):113.

  • Pro-inflammatory processes triggered by the accumulation of extracellular amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides are a well-described pathology in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Activated astrocytes surrounding Aβ plaques contribute to inflammation by secreting proinflammatory factors. While astrocytes may phagocytize Aβ and contribute to Aβ clearance, reactive astrocytes may also increase Aβ production.
  • Therefore, identifying factors that can attenuate astrocyte activation and neuroinflammation and how these factors influence pro-inflammatory pathways is important for developing therapeutic and preventive strategies in AD.
  • Here, researchers identify the platelet-activating factor receptor (PTAFR) pathway as a key mediator of astrocyte activation. Intriguingly, several polar lipids (PLs) have exhibited anti-inflammatory protective properties outside the central nervous system through their inhibitory effect on the PTAFR pathway. Thus, researchers additionally investigated whether different PLs also exert inhibitory effects on the PAF pathway in astrocytes and whether their presence influences astrocytic pro-inflammatory signaling and known AD pathologies in vitro.
  • PLs from salmon and yogurt were extracted using novel food-grade techniques and their fatty acid profile was determined using LC/MS. The effect of PLs on parameters such as astrocyte activation and generation of oxygen species (ROS) was assessed. Additionally, effects of the secretome of astrocytes treated with these polar lipids on aged neurons was measured.
  • The results showed that PLs obtained from salmon and yogurt lower astrocyte activation, the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and extracellular Aβ accumulation. Cell health of neurons exposed to the secretome of astrocytes treated with salmon-derived PLs and Aβ was less affected than those treated with astrocytes exposed to Aβ only.
  • These results highlight a novel underlying mechanism, why consuming PL-rich foods such as fish and dairy may reduce the risk of developing dementia and associated disorders.

A new era for food in health? The FDA announces a qualified health claim for yogurt intake and type II diabetes mellitus risk reduction. Lordan R. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2024 Apr 10;18(4):103006.

  • Over the last two decades research has grown regarding dairy intake and health. It has been reported by many that yogurt intake may be associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2D). In this report, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to announce a qualified health claim for yogurt products regarding reduced risk of T2D in response to a Danone North America petition is discussed.
  • Relevant literature cited in the petition along with supporting evidence from PubMed and Google Scholar databases until April 1st, 2024 were used. Literature was found using relevant keywords.
  • On March 1st, 2024, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the first ever qualified health claim, stating that there that eating yogurt regularly may reduce the risk of T2D according to limited scientific evidence. The enforcement discretion letter was critically reviewed and discussed regarding its future implications for people with T2M and public health.
  • It is unclear how this FDA decision will affect public health and nutrition in the long-term. Limited scientific evidence suggests that at least 3 servings of yogurt per week may reduce the risk of T2D incidence for the general population. Yogurt will not cure or treat people with T2D.
Innovation, Economics, and Dairy Alternatives

A systematic review of articles influencing United States retail cheese packaging, labeling, and market trends related to cheese in the marketplace and cheese during consumption. Hutchins DA, Hurley RA. J Dairy Sci. 2024 Apr 10:S0022-0302(24)00724-0.

  • Innovation around cheese is constant in attempts to meet ever-increasing consumer demands. Retail packaging provides a canvas to communicate to consumers added value from innovations or inherent properties of cheese. Packaging itself may also be the subject of cheese-related innovation.
  • This systematic review of literature organizes research over the past 10 years related to cheese packaging innovation that consumers experience in the marketplace and during consumption of cheese products.
  • The review discusses shipping, displaying cheese at grocery stores, the value of branding, purchasing preferences by demographics, health and nutrition claims, opportunities to highlight protein in cheese, marketing to children, issues of obesity and cheese, diet cheeses, allergens and non-dairy or vegan cheese, opening cheese packaging, cutting of cheese, cooking with cheese, eating cheese, the growing trend of snacking and convenience, and flavor preferences.
  • This review provides helpful insights to cheese producers applying findings from research of various styles of cheeses, cheese marketers communicating effectively to consumers, cheese developers designing new products relevant to recent consumer demands, smaller or specialized companies seeking to differentiate their cheese product through available technology and strategy, and cheese lovers or those with hobbies surrounding food wanting to know recent advancements in cheese packaging.
  • This review is a tool for discovering relevant articles relating to cheese packaging in a marketplace and consumption setting to guide cheese and cheese packaging and labeling innovation in the United States.

Nano-Biogenic Heavy Metals Adsorptive Remediation for Enhanced Soil Health and Sustainable Agricultural Production. Jha A, Barsola B, Pathania D, Sonu, Raizada P, Thakur P, Singh P, Rustagi S, Khosla A, Chaudhary V. Environ Res. 2024 Apr 22:118926.

  • Hazardous heavy metal (HM) pollution constitutes a pervasive global challenge, posing substantial risks to ecosystems and human health. The exigency for expeditious detection, meticulous monitoring, and efficacious remediation of HM within ecosystems is indisputable.
  • Soil contamination, stemming from a myriad of anthropogenic activities, emerges as a principal conduit for HM ingress into the food chain. Traditional soil remediation modalities for HM elimination, while effective are labor-intensive, susceptible to secondary contamination, and exhibit limited efficacy in regions characterized by low metal toxicity. In response to these exigencies, the eco-friendly paradigm of bioremediation has garnered prominence as a financially judicious and sustainable remedial strategy.
  • This approach entails the utilization of hyperaccumulators, Genetically Modified Microorganisms (GMM), and advantageous microbes. The current review offers a comprehensive elucidation of cutting-edge phyto/microbe-based bioremediation techniques, with a specific emphasis on their amalgamation with nanotechnology. Accentuating their pivotal role in advancing sustainable agricultural practices, the review meticulously dissects the synergistic interplay between plants and microbes, underscoring their adeptness in HM remediation sans secondary contamination.
  • Moreover, the review scrutinizes the challenges intrinsic to implementing bioremediation-nanotechnology interface techniques and propounds innovative resolutions. These discernments proffer auspicious trajectories for the future of agriculture.
  • Through the environmentally conscientious marvels of phyto/microbe bioremediation, an optimistic outlook emerges for environmental preservation and the cultivation of a sustainable, salubrious planet via the conduit of cleaner agricultural production.

Whey Cheeses Containing Probiotic and Bioprotective Cultures Produced with Ultrafiltrated Cow’s Whey. Pires A, Bożek A, Pietruszka H, Szkolnicka K, Gomes D, Díaz O, Cobos A, Pereira C. Foods. 2024 Apr 16;13(8):1214.

  • Bovine whey cheese (WC) is a product from southern European countries that presents some challenges: its production process involves high energy inputs; the yield is low; and WC has a short shelf life. The application of ultrafiltration (UF) to bovine whey before manufacture of WC and the employment of protective cultures can reduce these disadvantages.
  • The objective of this research was the production of whey cheeses using ultrafiltrated bovine cheese whey with added probiotics or probiotics plus protective cultures. Three types of WC were produced: control CW without any addition (C); CW with the addition of the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus(LA5); and CW with the addition of Lactobacillus acidophilus plus a protective culture containing Lacticaseibacillus paracasei and Lacticaseibacillus rhamnosus (LA5FQ4).
  • The WCs were stored under refrigerated conditions for 28 days. The products with added cultures presented lower pH values and higher titratable acidities when compared to the control. Sample LA5 presented the lowest pH and the highest titratable acidity, while LA5FQ4 presented intermediate values. Slight differences were observed between products regarding color parameters, chiefly resulting from storage time.
  • The samples with added cultures were firmer when compared to the control, with LA5 cheeses showing the highest values at the end of the storage. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) counts were on the order of log 8-9 CFU/g for the products with added cultures.
  • Lower levels of yeasts and molds were detected on the sample with the protective culture (LA5FQ4), so that by the end of storage they presented counts one log cycle lower than C and LA5. Hence, the beneficial impact of the protective culture on the shelf life of the product is evident.
  • Regarding sensory evaluation, LA5FQ4 cheeses obtained the highest scores for all parameters evaluated. It can be concluded that the use of UF associated with the addition of protective cultures can be very useful to reduce the energy consumption of the manufacturing process, to prolong the shelf life of WC and to improve its sensory properties.

Ultrasonic processing: effects on the physicochemical and microbiological aspects of dairy products. Rathnakumar K, Jain S, Pandiselvam R, et al. Crit Rev Biotechnol. 2024 Apr 21:1-15.

  • Dairy products that are contaminated by pathogenic microorganisms through unhygienic farm practices, improper transportation, and inadequate quality control can cause foodborne illness. Furthermore, inadequate storage conditions can increase the microflora of natural spoilage, leading to rapid deterioration.
  • Ultrasound processing is a popular technology used to improve the quality of milk products using high-frequency sound waves. It can improve food safety and shelf life by modifying milk protein and fats without negatively affecting nutritional profile and sensory properties, such as taste, texture, and flavor.
  • Ultrasound processing is effective in eliminating pathogenic microorganisms, such as Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus,and Listeria monocytogenes. However, the efficiency of processing is determined by the type of microorganism, pH, and temperature of the milk product, the frequency and intensity of the applied waves, as well as the sonication time.
  • Ultrasound processing has been established to be a safe and environmentally friendly alternative to conventional heat-based processing technologies that lead to the degradation of milk quality. There are some disadvantages to using ultrasound processing, such as the initial high cost of setting it up, the production of free radicals, the deterioration of sensory properties, and the development of off-flavors with lengthened processing times.
  • The aim of this review is to summarize current research in the field of ultrasound processing and discuss future directions.

Emerging Technologies for Improving Properties, Shelf Life, and Analysis of Dairy Products. Moatsou G. Foods. 2024 Apr 1;13(7):1078.

  • Processing results in several kinds of dairy products with variable properties and shelf lives that preserve and often enhance the unique nutritional and biological value of milk. Apart from nutritional properties, functional and sensory properties are also of great importance for dairy products.
  • There is a constant research effort for the improvement of the production conditions employed in the dairy sector. In this respect, emerging technologies and practices are developed and studied. This research activity has a multidisciplinary character since chemical, physical, microbiological, enzymatic, and microstructural modifications should be considered.
  • The present Special Issue is a collection of articles related to the application of different types of emerging technologies for the manufacture, analysis, preservation, handling, and analysis of dairy products or dairy components, such as non-thermal processing, enzymatic or fermentation procedures, supplementation with non-dairy substances, and analytical methodologies. Brief information on emerging technologies that have been used in the studies of the present collection, along with the respective articles, is given below.
  • There are many innovative suggestions and emerging practices for the treatment of milk and the manufacture of dairy products that focus on the enhancement of safety, functional and nutritional properties, and the reduction of energy consumption and environmental impact.
  • However, milk is a very complex biological material, and its constituents are in a state of rather fragile dynamic equilibrium. Moreover, the properties and shelf life of dairy products are highly variable. Any treatment that does not “respect” these facts destabilizes milk and induces defects in the dairy products. An emerging method, in order to become a unit operation that replaces a traditional one, has to ensure the safety, shelf life, and nutritional value of dairy products, be continuous, have a high capacity, and have reasonable installation time and installation/maintenance costs.
  • Therefore, extensive, specific, multidisciplinary, and time-consuming experiments are needed before the application of an emerging technology or practice in the dairy sector. The collection of articles published in this Special Issue can be considered contributions to this very demanding research field.

Comparison of Physical and Compositional Attributes between Commercial Plant-Based and Dairy Yogurts. Marlapati L, Basha RFS, Navarre A, Kinchla AJ, Nolden AA. Foods. 2024 Mar 23;13(7):984.

  • A primary strategy led by the food industry to improve the sustainability of the agricultural food supply is the development of modern plant-based alternatives. The information provided via marketing and product packaging provides consumers with the expectation that these products provide a similar product experience to conventional products, yet it is not well understood whether these commercial alternative products are comparable to traditional animal-based products.
  • To aid in developing improved plant-based products, this study aimed to compare the quality and physical attributes of commercially available plant-based and dairy yogurts.
  • Using instrumental methods, commercially available yogurt products were analyzed for their pH, titratable acidity, color, water activity, moisture content, and rheology, which included 13 plant-based (almond, cashew, coconut, oat, soy) and 8 whole-milk dairy yogurts.
  • The present study reveals that the plant-based and dairy yogurts had no significant differences in pH, lactic acid, water activity, or moisture content. However, there were significant differences in the color and texture properties between the plant-based and dairy yogurts. Additionally, significant differences were observed across the plant-based yogurt products in terms of their color and texture properties.
  • This highlights the need for additional studies to determine how individual ingredients influence the physical characteristics and textural properties to direct the development of plant-based yogurts. Improving upon the physicochemical properties of plant-based yogurt may encourage more consumers to adopt a more sustainable diet.

Novel animal product substitutes: A new category of plant-based alternatives to meat, seafood, egg, and dairy products. McClements DJ. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2024;23(3):e313330.

  • Many consumers are adopting plant-centric diets to address the adverse effects of livestock production on the environment, health, and animal welfare. Processed plant-based foods, including animal product analogs (such as meat, seafood, egg, or dairy analogs) and traditional animal product substitutes (such as tofu, seitan, or tempeh), may not be desirable to a broad spectrum of consumers.
  • This article introduces a new category of plant-based foods specifically designed to overcome the limitations of current animal product analogs and substitutes: novel animal product substitutes (NAPS).
  • NAPS are designed to contain high levels of nutrients to be encouraged (such as proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals) and low levels of nutrients to be discouraged (such as salt, sugar, and saturated fat). Moreover, they may be designed to have a wide range of appearances, textures, mouthfeels, and flavors.
  • For instance, they could be red, orange, green, yellow, blue, or beige; they could be spheres, ovals, cubes, or pyramids; they could be hard/soft or brittle/pliable; and they could be lemon, thyme, curry, or chili flavored. Consequently, there is great flexibility in creating NAPS that could be eaten in situations where animal products are normally consumed, for example, with pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, soups, or salads.
  • This article reviews the science behind the formulation of NAPS, highlights factors impacting their appearance, texture, flavor, and nutritional profile, and discusses methods that can be used to formulate, produce, and characterize them. Finally, it stresses the need for further studies on this new category of foods, especially on their sensory and consumer aspects.