Environmental Management and Sustainability

State-level trends in the greenhouse gas emission intensity of US milk production. O’Hara JK. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Jun 6:S0022-0302(23)00321-1.

  • The greenhouse gas emission intensity of US milk production (i.e., greenhouse gas emissions per unit of production) has varied across time and states. However, research has not examined how farm-sector trends affect the state-level emission intensity of production.
  • Therefore, researchers estimated fixed effects regressions with state-level panel data from 1992 through 2017 to test how US dairy farm-sector changes influenced the greenhouse gas emission intensity of production.
  • The results showed that increases in per cow milk productivity reduced the enteric greenhouse gas emission intensity of milk production, while it had no statistically significant effect on the manure greenhouse gas emission intensity of production.
  • In contrast, increases in average farm size and the number of farms reduced the manure greenhouse gas emission intensity of milk production, while they did not affect the enteric greenhouse gas emission intensity of production.
  • There was not a consistent trend in the emission intensity of milk production from manure management across US regions. In 1990, this ratio was relatively high in California, Idaho, and Texas. However, this ratio declined in these 3 states between 1990 and 2019, whereas the ratio increased elsewhere in the United States during this time period.
  • Overall, the emission intensity of milk production in California declined from 1.10 t of CO2e per Mg of milk in 1990 to 0.94 in 2019.

Characterizing sustainability certification standards in dairy production. McGarr-O’Brien K, Herron J, Shalloo L, De Boer IJM, De Olde EM. Animal. 2023 Jun 2;17(7):100863.

  • Despite the increasing use of private certification standards to meet the demand for sustainable dairy production, research into these standards is lacking.
  • In this paper, researchers characterized sustainability certification standards currently used in dairy production.
  • A literature search for dairy sustainability initiatives revealed one hundred-and-sixteen possible standards. In total, 19 of these were determined to qualify as ‘sustainability certification standards’ based on the selection criteria. The standards were analyzed using publicly available documents of the most recent version.
  • The analysis included three key components: (i) general characteristics of the standard (such as the geographic origin, year founded, most recent updates), (ii) a thematic coverage analysis of the sustainability themes covered in each standard and (iii) evaluation of the inherent trade-offs within each standard utilizing the opposing aspects of credibility, accessibility, and continuous improvement (the ‘devil’s triangle’).
  • The comparison of general characteristics of the 19 standards revealed a wide variation in the characteristics of standards such as organization type (i.e. nongovernmental organizations, individual dairy processor or other dairy sector actors), the number of indicators included, but also in the sustainability themes they cover, and how they balance the credibility, accessibility, and continuous improvement.
  • The environmental pillar is most frequently and comprehensively addressed, whereas the economic pillar is least frequently and least comprehensively addressed. The ‘devil’s triangle’ trade-off analysis revealed that credibility and accessibility, from the standard’s perspective, are often transparently described and assured within the documents of standards. In contrast, continuous improvement is infrequently focused upon by standards.
  • Overall, the variability in standards may allow farmers to choose a standard that aligns with his/her conviction or stage of development but might also create consumer or farmer mistrust in standards.

Linking the uptake of best management practices on dairy farms to catchment water quality improvement over a 20-year period. McDowell RW, Macintosh KA, Depree C. Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jun 20:164963.

  • Intensive land use, such as dairying, can impair water quality. Although many guidelines exist on how to mitigate the loss of dairy-associated contaminants from land to water through best management practices (BMPs), few datasets exist on the success of implementation on-farm.
  • Five dairy-dominated catchments (from 598 to 2480 ha) in New Zealand were studied from 2001 to 2020.
  • The first period, from 2001 to 2010, involved comprehensive “extension” advice to farmers consisting of workshops, stream water quality and flow monitoring, farm practice surveys, and identified solutions to address site-specific contaminant losses. In the second period (2011-2020), termed “post-extension”, only water quality monitoring and farm practice surveys were continued.
  • Of the water quality contaminants (including dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP), total phosphorus (TP), ammoniacal-nitrogen, nitrate-nitrite-nitrogen [NNN], suspended sediment and E. coli), 83 % of water quality trend directions were either improving (n = 16) or showed no change (n = 9) during the extension period.
  • Over the 20-year dataset, which included the post-extension period, 20 out of 30 contaminant-catchment combinations (67 %) were improving, but nine were degrading, dominated by NNN (n = 4), DRP (n = 2) and E. coli (n = 2). Abrupt decreases in contaminant concentrations, were correlated with on-farm practice changes mainly associated with transition from direct discharge of farm dairy shed effluent to waterways to land application, and the capture of effluent from off-paddock facilities (like stand off or feed pads).
  • Best management practices reduced phosphorus (P) forms, E. coli and sediment concentrations. Increase in NNN concentrations was caused by transitioning from flood to spray irrigation and a commensurate increase in cow numbers and NNN leaching.
  • These data indicate that extension advice and on-farm practice change have helped to improve overall water quality over time. Nevertheless, recent regulatory threshold values for some contaminant concentrations are not being met, meaning that more actions are required, over and above the BMPs implemented.

Assessment of the biochemical methane potential of in-house and outdoor stored pig and dairy  cow manure by evaluating chemical composition and storage conditions. Hilgert JE, Herrmann C, Petersen SO, Dragoni F, Amon T, Belik V, Ammon C, Amon B. Waste Manag. 2023 Jun 3;168:14-24.

  • Biogas production is a suitable option for producing energy from dairy and pig manure types. During manure storage, organic matter degradation results in methane emissions decreasing the potential biogas yield.
  • The present research advances the understanding of the biochemical methane potential (BMP) and the chemical characteristics of manure collected year-round from sequential stages of the liquid manure management chain of commercial dairy cow and pig farms.
  • To this end, manure samples from six livestock farms in Germany were analyzed.
  • The results showed that changes in chemical composition during storage led to a 20.5% decrease in the BMP of dairy manure from the barn to outdoor storage. For fattening pig manure samples, there was a 39.5% decrease in the BMP from intermediate to outdoor storage.
  • An analysis of BMP according to manure age showed that pig manure degrades faster than dairy manure; the importance of promptly feeding manure to the biogas plant in order to avoid significant CH4emission losses and reduction in energy producing capacity was highlighted.
  • The best BMP predictors for dairy manure were the contents of dry matter, volatile solids and lignin, whereas best BMP predictors for pig manure were dry matter and volatile fatty acid (VFA) content. Prediction models performed well for samples from outdoor storages; refinements for predicting BMP of less aged samples presenting lower chemical variability would be necessary.

Effect of diets with different crude protein levels on ammonia and greenhouse gas emissions from a naturally ventilated dairy housing. Schrade S, Zeyer K, Mohn J, Zähner M. Sci Total Environ. 2023 Jun 22:165027.

  • Less crude protein (CP) in the diet can reduce nitrogen excretion of dairy cattle and lower their ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O) formation potential. The diet composition might also affect emissions of methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • However, previous studies did not investigate the effect of diets with different CP levels that are customary practice in Switzerland on NH3and greenhouse gas emissions on a practical scale.
  • In a case-control approach, researchers quantified the emissions (NH3, N2O, CH4, CO2) in two separate but identical compartments of a naturally ventilated cubicle housing for lactating dairy cows over six days by using a tracer ratio method. Cows in one compartment received a diet with 116 g CP per kilogram dry matter (DM), in the other compartment with 166 g CP kg-1 Subsequently, diets were switched for a second 6-day measurement phase.
  • The results showed that the diet, aside from outside temperature and wind speed in the housing, was driving NH3and N2O emissions. NH3 and N2O emission reduction per livestock unit (LU) was on average 46 % and almost 20 %, respectively, for the diet with low CP level compared to the higher CP level.
  • In addition, strong relationships were observed between the CP content of the diet, N excretion in the urine and the milk urea content. An increased temperature or wind speed led to a clear increase in NH3 Differences in CH4and CO2 emissions per LU indicated a significant influence of the diet, which cannot be attributed to the CP content.
  • This herd-level study demonstrated that a significant reduction in NH3and N2O emissions related to LU, energy-corrected milk as well as DM intake can be achieved by lowering the CP content in the diet.

Economic and environmental analysis of processing plant interventions to reduce fluid milk waste. Lau S, Wiedmann M, Adalja A. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Jul;106(7):4773-4784.

  • With the increased awareness about the economic and environmental impact of food waste, many interventions along food supply chains have been proposed to mitigate food waste.
  • Even though interventions used to target food waste usually revolve around logistics and operations management, here, researchers highlight a unique solution to address this issue, specifically for fluid milk.
  • The researchers target the intrinsic quality of fluid milk by evaluating interventions that will extend the product shelf life. They used data from a previous fluid milk spoilage simulation model, collected price and product information from retail stores, conducted an expert elicitation, and used hedonic price regressions to determine the private and social gains to the dairy processing plant when implementing 5 different interventions to extend shelf life.
  • The results suggest that the value of each additional day of shelf life is approximately $0.03 and indicate that increasing periodic equipment cleaning is the most cost-effective strategy for processing plants to achieve fluid milk shelf-life improvements, both from a firm’s economic standpoint and from an environmental standpoint.
  • Importantly, the approaches reported here will be valuable to help individual firms to generate customized facility and firm specific assessments that identify the most appropriate strategies for extending the shelf life of different dairy products.

Animal Health and Food Safety

The effect of day-only versus day-plus-night cooling of dairy cows. Gaughan JB, Sharman K, McGowan MR. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Jul;106(7):5002-5017.

  • Thermal stress is a major limiting factor in dairy production in tropical, sub-tropical, and temperate climates during summer, and it has been identified as a significant risk to the sustainability of global dairy production. The major and most obvious contribution to productivity loss in dairy cattle from heat stress is decreased feed intake and subsequent reduced milk yield and milk quality.
  • Evaporative cooling is achieved via sweating, panting, or evaporation of water from the coat of the cow, and is affected by wind speed, dry bulb temperature, relative humidity, and the physical properties of the cow’s hair coat. Cooling infrastructure, whether by the use of shade, fans, sprinklers, or a combination of all of these, comes at a cost, and therefore it is essential that cooling strategies are cost effective.
  • The aim of this study was to assess effects on milk yield, rumen temperature, and panting score when lactating dairy cows were cooled during the day only or during the day and night.
  • The study was conducted over 106 days during using 120 multiparous Holstein-Friesian cows assigned to 2 treatments (60 cows/treatment; 2 pens/treatment):
    1. Day cooling (DC): overhead sprinklers (large droplet) and fans while in the dairy holding yard only, shade and fans at the feedpad, and a shaded loafing area;
    2. Enhanced day+night cooling (EDN): overhead sprinklers (large droplet) and fans in dairy holding yard, ducted air blowing onto cows during milking, plus thorough wetting (shower array) on exit from dairy; shade and fans at feedpad (turned off at night); and shaded loafing area + ducted fan-forced air blowing onto cows at night.
  • The ducted air at night was manually activated at 2030 h when the maximum daily temperature-humidity index exceeded 75 and remained on until 0430 h the next day. Rumen temperature and cow activity were obtained from each cow at 10-min intervals via rumen boluses. Panting scores were obtained by direct observation 4 times a day. Cows were milked twice daily.
  • The EDN cows had greater daily milk yield (+2.05 kg/cow per day) over the duration of the study compared with DC cows. Rumen temperature during the third heat wave was lower for EDN (39.51 ± 0.01°C) than for DC (39.66 ± 0.01°C) cows. During the most severe heat wave (heat wave 3), milk yield for the 2 groups was similar, but over the 6 days following the heat wave, EDN cows had greater daily milk yield (+3.61 kg/cow per day). Rumen temperature was lower for EDN (39.58 ± 0.01°C) than for DC (40.10 ± 0.01°C) cows.

The concentration of particulate matter in the barn air and its influence on the content of heavy metals in milk. Nieckarz Z, Pawlak K, Baran A, Wieczorek J, Grzyb J, Plata P. Sci Rep. 2023 Jun 30;13(1):10626.

  • The global increase in coal and gas prices and the emerging shortages of these raw materials make the increase in the use of lower-quality fuels used for heating houses highly likely. This will lead to an increase in particulate pollution, thereby deteriorating the air quality in animal buildings.
  • Heavy metals are one of the components of smog, which is mainly the product of burning fossil fuels in residential buildings. These elements, introduced into the body of cattle by inhalation, may enter the milk.
  • Consequently, in areas with high air pollution, a large proportion of cattle may be exposed to excessive particulate pollution, which will adversely affect their health and the quality of animal-based products. This is particularly dangerous in the case of milk, as this product is one of the main sources of protein in the human diet.
  • The goal of this study was to assess the impact of particulate pollution in the atmospheric air on the concentration of particulate matter in the air of a dairy cattle barn and on the content of selected heavy metals in milk from cows present in the building.
  • Measurements were taken between November and April (148 measurement days).
  • The calculations carried out showed a high correlation (RS= + 0.95) between the concentrations of particulates measured outside and inside the barn, which is indicative of a significant impact of the atmospheric air on the particulate pollution level of the livestock building.
  • The number of days in excess of the daily standard for PM10inside was 51. The conducted analysis of the chemical composition of the milk collected under high particulate pollution (February) showed that the permitted lead level had been exceeded-21.93 µg/kg (norm 20.00 µg/kg).
  • In view of the above, it should be concluded that further studies are necessary on the impact of smog on the concentration of particulate matter in the air of dairy cattle barns and on the content of heavy metals in milk. It seems that research on the impact of smog on the presence of harmful substances in other products of animal origin should also be carried out.

Metagenomics analysis reveals differences in rumen microbiota in cows with low and high milk protein percentage. Amin AB, Zhang L, Zhang J, Mao S. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2023 Jun 12.

  • Variation exists in milk protein concentration of dairy cows of the same breed that are fed and managed in the same environment, and little information was available on this variation which might be attributed to differences in rumen microbial composition as well as their fermentation metabolites.
  • This study is aimed at investigating the difference in the composition and functions of rumen microbiota as well as fermentation metabolites in Holstein cows with high and low milk protein concentrations.
  • In this study, 20 lactating Holstein cows on the same diet were divided into two groups (10 cows each), high degree of milk protein group (HD), and low degree of milk protein (LD) concentrations based on previous milk composition history. Rumen content samples were obtained to explore the rumen fermentation parameters and rumen microbial composition.
  • Metagenomics revealed that 6 Archaea genera, 5 Bacteria genera, 7 Eukaryota genera, and 7 virus genera differed significantly between the HD and LD group. The analysis of metagenome-assembled genomes (MAGs) showed that 2 genera were significantly enriched in the HD group. However, the LD group recorded an increased abundance of 8 genera when compared to the HD group.
  • Furthermore, investigation of the KEGG genes revealed an upregulation in a higher number of genes associated with nitrogen metabolism and lysine biosynthesis pathways in the HD group as compared to the LD group. Therefore, the high milk protein concentration in the HD group could be explained by an increased ammonia synthesis by ruminal microbes which were converted to microbial amino acids and microbial protein in presence of an increased energy source made possible by higher activities of carbohydrate-active enzymes. This microbial protein gets absorbed in the small intestine as amino acids and might be utilized for the synthesis of milk protein.
  • Overall, rumen microbiota and their functions differed between cows with high milk protein % and those with low milk protein %. The rumen microbiome of cows with high milk protein recorded a higher number of enriched genes linked to the nitrogen metabolism pathway and lysine biosynthesis pathway. The activities of carbohydrate-active enzymes were found to be higher in the rumen of cows with high milk protein %.

Effects of ultra-high-temperature processes on metabolite changes in milk. Bai G, Cheng L, Wang T, et al. Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Apr 6;11(6):3601-3615.

  • Processing can affect milk properties and alter the composition of milk metabolites, which has corresponding effects on milk flavor and quality. It is quite important to study the safe quality control of milk processing.
  • Therefore, the purpose of this study was to identify metabolites at different steps of ultra-high-temperature-sterilized (UHT) milk processing using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).
  • These steps included raw milk, pasteurized milk (80°C for 15 s), semi-finished milk (after pasteurizing, it was homogenized at 75°C with pressure of 250 bar), UHT milk (at 140°C for 10 s), and finished milk (homogenized UHT milk).
  • A total of 66 metabolites were identified across all samples, including 30 metabolites in the chloroform layers of the milk samples and 41 metabolites in the water layers; 5 metabolites were found in both layers. The metabolites were primarily fatty acids, amino acids, sugars, and organic acids. For example, pasteurized and ultra-high-temperature-sterilized kinds of milk had lactose contents similar to those of raw milk, with increases in saturated fatty acids such as hexadecanoic acid and octadecanoic acid.
  • Additionally, these findings indicated that these methods of processing can affect the contents of some components of milk. Therefore, from the perspective of milk’s nutritional value and consumer health, the excessive heating of dairy products should be avoided and the milk heat treatment process should be standardized from the source.

Human Health and Nutrition

CDRF-Funded Research Association of Estimated Daily Lactose Consumption, Lactase Persistence Genotype (rs4988235), and Gut Microbiota in Healthy U.S. Adults. Kable ME, Chin EL, Huang L, Stephensen CB, Lemay DG. J Nutr. 2023 Jun 22:S0022-3166(23)72431-0.

  • Lactase persistence (LP) is a heritable trait in which lactose can be digested throughout adulthood. Lactase non-persistence (LNP) individuals who consume lactose may experience microbial adaptations in response to the undigested lactose.
  • The objective of the study was to estimate lactose from foods reported in the Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Dietary Assessment Tool (ASA24) and to determine the interaction between lactose consumption, LP genotype and gut microbiome in an observational cross-sectional study of healthy U.S. adults.
  • Average daily lactose consumption was estimated for N = 279 healthy U.S. adults, genotyped for the lactase gene -13910G>A polymorphism (SNP ID: rs4988235), by matching ASA24-reported foods to foods in the Nutrition Coordinating Center Food and Nutrient Database.
  • Analysis of covariance was used to identify whether the A genotype (LP) influenced lactose and total dairy consumption with total energy intake and weight as covariates.
  • Across a diverse set of ethnicities, LP subjects consumed more lactose than LNP subjects. Lactobacillaceae abundance was highest in LNP subjects who consumed more than 12.46g/d (upper tercile). Within Caucasians and Hispanics, family Lachnospiraceae was significantly enriched in the gut microbiota of LNP individuals consuming the upper tercile of lactose across both sexes.
  • In conclusion, elevated lactose consumption in individuals with LNP genotype was associated with increased abundance of family Lactobacillaceae and Lachnospriaceae, taxa that contain multiple genera capable of utilizing lactose.

Perspective: The Benefits of Including Flavored Milk in Healthy Dietary Patterns. Ricklefs-Johnson K, Pikosky MA. Adv Nutr. 2023 Jun 7:S2161-8313(23)01323-6.

  • The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend two-and-a-half cup equivalents of low-fat and fat-free dairy foods per day for children 4-8 years old and 3 cup equivalents per day for adolescents aged 9-18 and adults.
  • Currently, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recognizes 4 nutrients as being of public concern because of suboptimal levels in the diet. These include calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin D. In the American diet, dairy foods are leading contributors of calcium, vitamin D, and potassium.
  • Milk, because of its unique nutrient package that provides shortfall nutrients to the diets of children and adolescents, remains an underpinning of dietary recommendations and is included with school meals. Despite this, milk consumption is declining, and >80% of Americans do not meet recommendations for dairy.
  • Data indicate that children and adolescents who consume flavored milk are more likely to consume more dairy and adhere to healthier overall dietary patterns. Flavored milk, however, receives more scrutiny than plain milk because of its contribution of added sugar and calories to the diet and concerns over childhood obesity.
  • Therefore, the purpose of this narrative review is to describe trends in beverage consumption in children and adolescents aged 5-18 years old and highlight the science that has examined the impact of including flavored milk in overall healthy dietary patterns within this population.

Association between dairy intake and risk of incident dementia: the Ohsaki Cohort 2006 Study. Lu Y, Sugawara Y, Tsuji I. Eur J Nutr. 2023 Jun 19.

  • Recent projections suggest that in 2019, about 57 million people were living with dementia, and by 2050, the prevalence is expected to nearly triple to over 150 million.
  • Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the association between dairy intake and risk of incident dementia in older adults.
  • A longitudinal analysis of dairy intake with incident dementia was conducted using a cohort study of 11,637 non-disabled Japanese older adults aged ≥ 65 years followed-up for up to 5.7 years (mean: 5.0 years).
  • Data on milk, yogurt, and cheese intake were collected using a validated food frequency questionnaire. Total dairy intake was calculated as the sum of the daily intake of milk, yogurt, and cheese, which was sex-specifically categorized in quintiles.
  • During 58,013 person-years of follow-up, 946 persons developed dementia. In the primary analysis, compare to the lowest quintile of total dairy intake, Q2 showed a slightly decreased incident dementia risk (HR for Q2 vs Q1: 0.90) after fully adjusted for demographic, lifestyle, psychological, and nutritional factors, and diseases history.
  • Compared to non-consumers of milk, those consuming for 1-2 times/month showed a lower risk of incident dementia (fully-adjusted HR: 0.76). Daily yogurt consumers also had a reduced risk (fully-adjusted HR: 0.89). But daily cheese consumers showed an increased risk of dementia (fully-adjusted HR: 1.28).
  • In the sensitivity analysis where researchers excluded dementia cases attained in the first 2 years, results were consistent with those from the primary analysis and further found that yogurt intake might be inversely associated with dementia risk.
  • In conclusion, total dairy intake or milk intake frequency might be associated with lower incident dementia risk, however daily cheese consumers seemed to have an increased risk. This study also suggested a possible inverse dose-response association between yogurt consumption and dementia risk, but further studies are needed to confirm whether this benefit was from yogurt intake itself or as a part of a healthy dietary pattern.

Low-fat dairy consumption and the risk of lung cancer: A large prospective cohort study. Zhu Z, Peng L, Zhou H, Gu H, Tang Y, Zhou Z, Xiang L, Wang Y. Cancer Med. 2023 Jun 16.

  • Despite the possible contribution of dairy products to the development or prevention of cancers, there is a lack of epidemiological evidence linking low-fat dairy consumption to the risk of developing lung cancer.
  • This research was conducted to fill this knowledge gap.
  • The data for this research were collected from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. A series of predefined subgroup analyses were performed to identify potential effect modifiers, and several sensitivity analyses were conducted to assess the stability of the findings.
  • The study included data from 98,459 individuals. During a total of 869,807.9 follow-up person-years, 1642 cases of lung cancer were observed, with an incidence of 0.189 cases for every 100 person-years.
  • In the fully adjusted model, participants in the highest quartile of low-fat dairy consumption had a significantly decreased risk of lung cancer compared to the ones in the lowest quartile (HRquartile 4 vs. 1: 0.769). The restricted cubic spline plot revealed an inverse nonlinear dose-response relationship between low-fat dairy consumption and lung cancer risk. Subgroup analyses demonstrated that the inverse association was stronger among participants with higher daily caloric intake. Various sensitivity analyses produced consistent results.
  • In conclusion, consuming more low-fat dairy products is significantly linked to a reduced risk of developing lung cancer, indicating that an appropriate increase in the use of low-fat dairy products may help prevent lung cancer.

Trans-palmitoleic acid, a dairy fat biomarker, stimulates insulin secretion and activates G protein-coupled receptors with a different mechanism from the cis isomer. Korkus E, Szustak M, Madaj R, Gendaszewska-Darmach E, et al. Food Funct. 2023 Jun 27.

  • Dietary trans-palmitoleic acid (trans16:1n-7, tPOA), a biomarker for high-fat dairy product intake, has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in some cross-sectional and prospective epidemiological studies.
  • Here, researchers investigated the insulin secretion-promoting activity of tPOA and compared them with the effects evoked by the cis-POA isomer (cPOA), an endogenous lipokine biosynthesized in the liver and adipose tissue, and found in some natural food sources.
  • The debate about the positive and negative relationships of those two POA isomers with metabolic risk factors and the underlying mechanisms is still going on. Therefore, researchers examined the potency of both POA isomers to potentiate insulin secretion in murine and human pancreatic β cell lines. They also investigated whether POA isomers activate G protein-coupled receptors proposed as potential targets for T2DM treatment.
  • The study showed that tPOA and cPOA augment glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) to a similar extent; however, their insulin secretagogue activity is associated with different signaling pathways.
  • The researchers also performed ligand docking and molecular dynamics simulations to predict the preferred orientation of POA isomers and the strength of association between those two fatty acids and GPR40, GPR55, GPR119, and GPR120 receptors.
  • Overall, this study provides insight into the bioactivity of tPOA and cPOA toward selected GPCR functions, indicating them as targets responsible for the insulin secretagogue action of POA isomers. It reveals that both tPOA and cPOA may promote insulin secretion and subsequently regulate glucose homeostasis.

Innovation, Economics, and Dairy Alternatives

The Role of Blockchain Technology in Promoting Traceability Systems in Agri-Food Production and Supply Chains. Bosona T, Gebresenbet G. Sensors (Basel). 2023 Jun 5;23(11):5342.

  • Due to recurring food quality and safety issues, growing segments of consumers, especially in developed markets, and regulators in agri-food supply chains (AFSCs) require a fast and trustworthy system to retrieve necessary information on their food products. With the existing centralized traceability systems used in AFSCs, it is difficult to acquire full traceability information, and there are risks of information loss and data tampering.
  • To address these challenges, research on the application of blockchain technology (BCT) for traceability systems in the agri-food sector is increasing, and startup companies have emerged in recent years. However, there have been only a limited number of reviews on the application of BCT in the agriculture sector, especially those that focus on the BCT-based traceability of agricultural goods.
  • To bridge this knowledge gap, we reviewed 78 studies that integrated BCT into traceability systems in AFSCs and additional relevant papers, mapping out the main types of food traceability information.
  • The findings indicated that the existing BCT-based traceability systems focus more on fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, and milk. A BCT-based traceability system enables one to develop and implement a decentralized, immutable, transparent, and reliable system in which process automation facilitates the monitoring of real-time data and decision-making activities.
  • The researchers also mapped out the main traceability information, key information providers, and challenges and benefits of the BCT-based traceability systems in AFSCs. These helped to design, develop, and implement BCT-based traceability systems, which, in turn, will contribute to the transition to smart AFSC systems.
  • This study comprehensively illustrated that implementing BCT-based traceability systems also has important, positive implications for improving AFSC management, e.g., reductions in food loss and food recall incidents and the achievement of the United Nations SDGs (1, 3, 5, 9, 12). This will contribute to existing knowledge and be useful for academicians, managers, and practitioners in AFSCs, as well as policymakers.

Invited Review: Integration of Technologies and Systems for Precision Animal Agriculture – A Case Study on Precision Dairy Farming.
Kaur U, Malacco VMR, Voyles RM, et al. J Anim Sci. 2023 Jun 19:skad206.

  • Precision livestock farming (PLF) offers a strategic solution to enhance the management capacity of large animal groups, while simultaneously improving profitability, efficiency, and minimizing environmental impacts associated with livestock production systems. Additionally, PLF contributes to optimizing the ability to manage and monitor animal welfare while providing solutions to global grand challenges posed by the growing demand for animal products and ensuring global food security.
  • By enabling a return to the “per animal” approach by harnessing technological advancements, PLF enables cost-effective, individualized care for animals through enhanced monitoring and control capabilities within complex farming systems. Meeting the nutritional requirements of a global population exponentially approaching ten billion people will likely require the density of animal proteins for decades to come.
  • The development and application of digital technologies are critical to facilitate the responsible and sustainable intensification of livestock production over the next several decades to maximize the potential benefits of PLF. Real-time continuous monitoring of each animal is expected to enable more precise and accurate tracking and management of health and well-being. Importantly, the digitalization of agriculture is expected to provide collateral benefits of ensuring auditability in value chains while assuaging concerns associated with labor shortages.
  • Despite notable advances in PLF technology adoption, a number of critical concerns currently limit the viability of these state-of-the-art technologies. The potential benefits of PLF for livestock management systems which are enabled by autonomous continuous monitoring and environmental control can be rapidly enhanced through an Internet of Things (IoT) approach to monitoring and (where appropriate) closed-loop management. In this paper, we analyze the multilayered network of sensors, actuators, communication, networking, and analytics currently used in PLF, focusing on dairy farming as an illustrative example.
  • In this paper, researchers explore the current state-of-the-art, identify key shortcomings, and propose potential solutions to bridge the gap between technology and animal agriculture. Additionally, we examine the potential implications of advancements in communication, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) on the health, security, and welfare of animals.

Designing profitable and climate-smart farms using virtual reality. Lasseur R, Laurenson S, Ali M, Loh I, Mackay M. PLoS One. 2023 Jun 2;18(6):e0286723.

  • Many pastoral farmers are searching for ways to lower the carbon emission footprint that is generated by livestock. Planting trees on the farm is currently a popular option for farmers to offset their emissions yet requires knowledge of suitable tree species and locations to plant them.
  • This paper describes a decision-support tool aimed at helping farmers to create and visualize different planting designs while balancing the objectives of sequestering carbon and maintaining farm profitability.
  • The researchers take an innovative approach by combining virtual reality technology with biophysical models to create an environment where the user can actively create virtual future farm scenarios. Through the creation process, the user can simultaneously balance multiple objectives including farm aesthetics, economic returns, business and environmental ambitions, and carbon emissions (net) balance.
  • For this proof-of-concept study, the researchers incorporate virtual reality technology in Unreal Engine, environmental and financial data, and high-resolution spatial layers from an operational 400-hectare livestock farm in New Zealand.

Microalgal conversion of whey and lactose containing substrates: current state and challenges. Kolesovs S, Semjonovs P. Biodegradation. 2023 Jun 17.

  • Currently dairy processing by-products, such as whey, still propose a significant threat to the environment if unproperly disposed. Microalgal bioconversion of such lactose containing substrates can be used for production of valuable microalgae-derived bio-products as well as for significant reduction of environmental risks. Moreover, it could significantly reduce microalgae biomass production costs, being a significant obstacle in commercialization of many microalgae species.
  • This review summarizes current knowledge on the use of lactose containing substrates, e.g. whey, for the production of value-added products by microalgae, including information on producer cultures, fermentation methods and cultivation conditions, bioprocess productivity and ability of microalgal cultures to produce β-galactosidases.
  • It can be stated, that despite several limitations, lactose-containing substrates can be successfully used for both-the production of microalgal biomass and removal of high amounts of excess nutrients from the cultivation media. Moreover, co-cultivation of microalgae and other microorganisms can further increase the removal of nutrients and the production of biomass.
  • Further investigations on lactose metabolism by microalgae, selection of suitable strains and optimization of the cultivation process is required in order to enable large-scale microalgae production on these substrates.

Sustainable emerging high-intensity sonication processing to enhance the protein bioactivity and bioavailability: An updated review. Hussain M, Gantumur MA, Manzoor MF, Hussain K, Xu J, Aadil RM, Qayum A, Ahmad I, Zhong H, Guan R. Ultrason Sonochem. 2023 Jul;97:106464.

  • High-intensity ultrasound (HIU) is considered one of the promising non-chemical eco-friendly techniques used in food processing. Recently (HIU) is known to enhance food quality, extraction of bioactive compounds and formulation of emulsions.
  • Various foods are treated with ultrasound, including fats, bioactive compounds, and proteins. Regarding proteins, HIU induces acoustic cavitation and bubble formation, causing the unfolding and exposure of hydrophobic regions, resulting in functional, bioactive, and structural enhancement.
  • This review briefly portrays the impact of HIU on the bioavailability and bioactive properties of proteins; the effect of HIU on protein allergenicity and anti-nutritional factors has also been discussed. HIU can enhance bioavailability and bioactive attributes in plants and animal-based proteins, such as antioxidant activity, antimicrobial activity, and peptide release.
  • Moreover, numerous studies revealed that HIU treatment could enhance functional properties, increase the release of short-chain peptides, and decrease allergenicity.
  • HIU could replace the chemical and heat treatments used to enhance protein bioactivity and digestibility; however, its applications are still on research and small scale, and its usage in industries is yet to be implemented.

Dairy and Plant-Based Milks: Implications for Nutrition and Planetary Health. Ramsing R, Santo R, Kim BF, Altema-Johnson D, Wooden A, Chang KB, Semba RD, Love DC. Curr Environ Health Rep. 2023 Jun 10.

  • Dairy milk products are dominant in the market; however, plant-based milks are gaining prominence among USA consumers. Many questions remain about how plant-based milk products compare to dairy milk from a nutrition, public health, and planetary health perspective.
  • Here, researchers compare the retail sales, nutrient profiles, and known health and environmental impacts of the production and consumption of dairy and plant-based milks and identify knowledge gaps for future studies. For our plant-based milk comparisons, we reviewed almond, soy, oat, coconut, rice, pea, cashew, and other plant-based milks as data were available.
  • The retail unit price of plant-based milks was generally higher than that of cow’s milk, making it less accessible to lower-income groups. Many plant-based milks are fortified to match the micronutrient profile of dairy milk more closely. Notable differences remained, especially in protein, zinc, and potassium, depending on the base ingredient and individual product. Some plant-based milks contain added sugar to improve flavor.
  • Plant-based milks were generally associated with lower environmental impacts (e.g., greenhouse gas emissions, water use) than cow’s milk, with the notable exception of the higher water footprint of almond milk.
  • This review of recent studies and consumer purchases confirmed that retail sales of plant-based milks are increasing and shifting among products. Further research is needed to better characterize the environmental impacts of newer plant-based milks, such as cashew, hemp, and pea milks; consumer attitudes and behavior towards plant-based milks; and the safety and potential health effects related to their long-term and more frequent consumption.

Ultraprocessed plant-based foods: Designing the next generation of healthy and sustainable alternatives to animal-based foods. McClements DJ. Compr Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2023 Jun 22.

  • Numerous examples of next-generation plant-based foods, such as meat, seafood, egg, and dairy analogs, are commercially available. These products are usually designed to have physicochemical properties, sensory attributes, and functional behaviors that match those of the animal-sourced products they are designed to replace.
  • However, there has been concern about the potential negative impacts of these foods on human nutrition and health. In particular, many of these products have been criticized for being ultraprocessed foods that contain numerous ingredients and are manufactured using harsh processing operations.
  • In this article, the concept of ultraprocessed foods is introduced and its relevance to describe the properties of next-generation plant-based foods is discussed. Most commercial plant-based meat, seafood, egg, and dairy analogs currently available do fall into this category, and so can be classified as ultraprocessed plant-based (UPB) foods.
  • The nutrient content, digestibility, bioavailability, and gut microbiome effects of UPB foods are compared to those of animal-based foods, and the potential consequences of any differences on human health are discussed. Some commercial UPB foods would not be considered healthy based on their nutrient profiles, especially those plant-based cheeses that contain low levels of protein and high levels of fat, starch, and salt. However, it is argued that UPB foods can be designed to have good nutritional profiles and beneficial health effects.
  • Finally, areas where further research are still needed to create a more healthy and sustainable food supply are discussed.

Trends and prospects in dairy protein replacement in yogurt and cheese. Diaz-Bustamante ML, Keppler JK, Reyes LH, Alvarez Solano OA. Heliyon. 2023 Jun 3;9(6):e16974.

  • There is a growing demand for nutritional, functional, and eco-friendly dairy products, which has increased the need for research regarding alternative and sustainable protein sources.
  • Plant-based, single-cell (SCP), and recombinant proteins are being explored as alternatives to dairy proteins. Plant-Based Proteins (PBPs) are commonly used to replace total dairy protein. However, PBPs are generally mixed with dairy proteins to improve their functional properties, which makes them dependent on animal protein sources.
  • In contrast, single-Cell Proteins (SCPs) and recombinant dairy proteins are promising alternatives for dairy protein replacement since they provide nutritional components, essential amino acids, and high protein yield and can use industrial and agricultural waste as carbon sources.
  • Although alternative protein sources offer numerous advantages over conventional dairy proteins, several technical and sensory challenges must be addressed to fully incorporate them into cheese and yogurt products.
  • Future research can focus on improving the functional and sensory properties of alternative protein sources and developing new processing technologies to optimize their use in dairy products. This review highlights the current status of alternative dairy proteins in cheese and yogurt, their functional properties, and the challenges of their use in these products.