Environmental Management and Sustainability

From fallow ground to common ground: Perspectives on future land uses in the San Joaquin valley under sustainable groundwater management. Espinoza V, Bernacchi LA, Eriksson M, Schiller A, Hayden A, Viers JH.J Environ Manage. 2023. 333:117226.

  • Agriculture dominates California’s San Joaquin Valley with over five million acres of farmland produces 400 different commodities ranging from nuts, tree fruits, vines, and row crops.
  • During dry years agricultural production in the San Joaquin Valley uses about 53% of total applied water in the state. Implementation of California’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) will restrict groundwater pumping, likely reducing irrigated agricultural land use resulting in conversion to alternative land uses.
  • To promote collaborative and inclusive efforts to repurpose agricultural land, California’s legislature established a funding program administered by the Department of Conservation, the Multibenefit Land Repurposing Program (MLRP), in 2021.
  • To ensure that land repurposing plans under the MLRP and SGMA represent San Joaquin Valley community needs this paper examines public perceptions of future land uses under SGMA through a phone survey.
  • Respondents (n = 197) were recruited through a stratified random sample of mobile numbers registered within communities in the San Joaquin Valley classified as disadvantaged communities (DACs) (n = 32).
  • These results show that most respondents were somewhat (33%) or not at all (54%) familiar with SGMA, highlighting the need for outreach efforts to overcome barriers to representation, translation, and education about future water and land use decisions. Survey respondents identified secure water supplies (e.g., groundwater recharge) (35%) and less-water intensive agriculture (27%) as their top land use priorities to address groundwater overdraft under SGMA, indicating that the status quo for land use is preferred to alternative land uses.
  • Preference for maintaining agriculture as primary land use (27%), we correlated with agricultural identity and lack of interest in community or global benefits such as schools and climate change mitigation.
  • The findings from this study underscore the local variability in land use values and the importance to engaging local communities in land use decision-making, especially as they relate to changing current practices toward a more climate-resilient but agriculturally productive future with less land and less water.

Assessing the environmental impact of resource recovery from dairy manure. Glover CJ, McDonnell A, Rollins KS, Hiibel SR, Cornejo PK. J Environ Manage. 2023 Mar 15;330:117150.

  • Manure management is a major contributor to environmental impacts from large-scale dairy production.
  • In this study, technologies for recovering energy, nutrients, and water from dairy manure were evaluated using life cycle assessment (LCA) and compared to conventional practices on California dairy farms.
  • Six scenarios were evaluated: conventional manure management practices, anaerobic digestion (AD) for biogas recovery, and four scenarios for nutrients, energy, and water integrated recovery, called NEWIR.
  • The NEWIR system consists of hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) for energy recovery via hydrochar, algae cultivation in the HTC aqueous product for nutrient recovery and production of protein-rich cattle feed, and water recovery from algae pond effluent via membrane distillation. Four NEWIR scenarios were evaluated, each with a different species of algae.
  • Based on the results of the LCA, AD improves GHG emissions relative to conventional practices by 82%, but has similar eutrophication impacts, posing similar concerns for nutrient management as current practices.
  • Results for the NEWIR system are highly dependent on the algae species used. Three of the four species evaluated (Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, Chlorella vulgaris, and Scenedesmus obliquus) improve GHG emissions by 420-500 kg CO2-eq. per functional unit, while net water consumption is increased by approximately 75% over AD and conventional practices Spirulina maxima requires more water and chemical inputs for cultivation than the other species, resulting in higher water use (21 times higher than baseline), though GHG emissions are still reduced by 85 kg CO2-eq. per functional unit relative to conventional practices.
  • All NEWIR scenarios improve eutrophication impacts relative to AD and conventional practices by 16-46% for marine eutrophication and 18-99% for freshwater eutrophication, depending on the algae species used.
  • The results suggest integrated resource recovery through NEWIR is a promising treatment method for manure to mitigate GHG emissions and improve nutrient management on large-scale farms. In addition, carbon and nutrient trading policies are discussed in relation to resource recovery technologies and their potential to incentivize producers to recover products from dairy manure.

Impact of essential oils on methane emissions, milk yield, and feed efficiency and resulting influence on the carbon footprint of dairy production systems. Becker F, Spengler K, Reinicke F, Heider-van Diepen C. Environ Sci Pollut Res Int. 2023 Mar 7.

  • Reducing CO2 emissions is one of the highest priorities in animal production. Regarding methane reduction, feed additives are of growing importance. As shown in a meta-analysis, the use of the essential oil (EO) blend Agolin Ruminant affects methane production per day (- 8.8%), milk yield (+ 4.1%), and feed efficiency (+ 4.4%).
  • Building on these results, the present study investigated the effect of varying individual parameters on the carbon footprint of milk.
  • The environmental and operational management system REPRO was applied to calculate the CO2 emissions. Calculation of CO2 emissions include enteric and storage-related CH4, storage-, and pasture-related N2O as well as direct and indirect energy expenditures.
  • Three feed rations were created, differing in their basic feed components such as grass silage, corn silage, and pasture. Each feed ration was differentiated into three variants: variant 1 CON (no additive), variant 2 EO, and variant 3 (15% reduction of enteric methane compared to CON).
  • Due to the reducing effect of EO on enteric methane production, a reduction potential of up to 6% could be calculated for all rations. Considering other variable parameters, such as the positive effects on ECM yield and feed efficiency, a GHG reduction potential of up to 10% can be achieved for the silage rations and almost 9% for the pasture ration.
  • Modeling showed that indirect methane reduction strategies are important contributors to environmental impacts. Reduction of enteric methane emissions is fundamental, as they account for the largest share of GHG emissions from dairy production.

Advanced treatment of toluene emissions with a cutting-edge algal bacterial photo-bioreactor: Performance assessment in a circular economy perspective. Oliva G, Pahunang RR, Naddeo V, et al. Sci Total Environ. 2023 Mar 23:163005.

  • New biotechnologies are needed for biogas cleaning and green energy production.
  • A novel approach for the treatment of VOCs (by using toluene used as a model compound) and the simultaneous conversion of carbon dioxide into valuable biomass has been investigated by using a combination of an activated sludge moving bed bioreactor (MBBR) and an algal photo-bioreactor (PBR).
  • The first unit (MBBR, R1) promoted toluene removal up to 99.9 % for inlet load (IL) of 119.91 g m-3 d-1. The CO2 resulting from the degradation of toluene was then fixed in PBR (R2), with a fixation rate up to 95.8 %. The CO2 uptake was promoted by algae, with average production of algal biomass in Stage VI of 1.3 g L-1 d-1.
  • In the contest of the circular economy, alternative sources of nutrients have been assessed, using synthetic urban wastewater (UWW) and dairy wastewater (DWW) for liquid renewal. The produced biomass with DWW showed a high lipid content, with a maximum productivity of 450.25 mg of lipids L-1 d-1.
  • The solution proposed may be thus regarded as a sustainable and profitable strategy for VOCs treatment in a circular economy perspective.

State of the art and prospects of zeolites and metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for nitrogen and phosphorus removal in dairy wastewater. Bouanga Boudiombo JS, Madden DG, Cusack B, Cronin P, Ryan A. Chemosphere. 2023 Mar 31:138531.

  • Water is an essential resource for humans, animals, and plants. Water is also necessary for the manufacture of many products such as milk, textiles, paper, and pharmaceutical composites. During manufacturing, some industries generate a large amount of wastewater containing numerous contaminants.
  • In the dairy industry, for each liter of drinking milk produced, about 10 liters of wastewater is generated. Despite this environmental footprint, the production of milk, butter, ice cream, baby formula, etc., are essential in many households.
  • Common contaminants in dairy wastewater include high biological oxygen demand (BOD), chemical oxygen demand (COD), salts as well as nitrogen and phosphorus derivatives. Nitrogen and phosphorus discharges are one of the leading causes in the eutrophication of rivers and oceans.
  • Porous materials have long held significant potential as a disruptive technology for wastewater treatment. However, thus far they have been understudied for use in dairy wastewater treatment.
  • Ordered porous materials, such as Zeolites and metal organic frameworks (MOFs), represent classes of porous materials with significant potential for the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus.
  • This review explores the different zeolites and MOFs applied in the removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater and the prospect of their potential for use in wastewater management in the dairy industry.

Water-Energy-Food nexus index proposal as a sustainability criterion on dairy farms. Entrena-Barbero E, Rebolledo-Leiva R, Vásquez-Ibarra L, Fernández M, Feijoo G, González-García S, Moreira MT. Sci Total Environ. 2023 Mar 3:162507.

  • Cow milk is a fundamental nutrients source for the human diet at all stages of life. However, the decline in cow milk consumption over the years has been driven by increased consumer awareness of animal welfare and the environmental burdens associated. In this regard, different initiatives have emerged to mitigate the impacts of livestock farming, but many of them without addressing the multi-perspective view of environmental sustainability.
  • Thus, the Water-Energy-Food (WEF) nexus emerges as a framework to consider the complex synergies among carbon emissions, water demand, energy requirements and food production.
  • In this study, a novel and harmonized WEF nexus approach has been proposed and applied to evaluate a set of 100 dairy farms. For that, the assessment, normalization, and weighting of three lifecycle indicators such as carbon, water and energy footprints, as well as the milk yield were carried out to obtain a single value, the WEF nexus index (WEFni), which varies from 0 to 100.
  • Results show that the WEF nexus scores obtained vary from 31 to 90, demonstrating large differences among the farms assessed. A cluster ranking was performed to identify those farms with the worst WEF nexus indexes. For this group, consisting of 8 farms with an average WEFni of 39, three improvement actions focused on the feeding, digestive process and wellbeing of the cows were applied to determine the potential reduction in the two main hotspots identified: cow feeding and milk production level.
  • The proposed methodology can establish a roadmap for promoting a more environmentally sustainable food industry, although further studies are still required in the pathway of a standardized WEFni.

Animal Health and Food Safety

Revealing the diversity of internal body temperature and panting response for feedlot cattle under environmental thermal stress. Islam MA, Lomax S, Doughty AK, Islam MR, Thomson PC, Clark CEF. Sci Rep. 2023 Mar 25;13(1):4879.

  • Core body temperature (CBT) regulation is crucial for mammalian wellbeing and survival. Cattle pant to dissipate excess heat to regulate CBT when ambient conditions exceed thermoneutral zones. However, to date, neither the variability in cattle heat response, the lagged response of CBT to thermal indices, nor the diurnal patterns of thermal indices, CBT and panting have been reported in the literature.
  • Therefore, researchers decomposed thermal indices, CBT and panting time-series data for 99 feedlot heifers across three discrete heat events into diurnal, trend and residual components. Both raw and decomposed data were analyzed to explore the lagged CBT and panting responses and the association between series.
  • The results show ambient thermal conditions impact CBT with a 1-hour lag despite a lag of between 1.5 to 3 hours from raw data. Average individual panting scores were used to identify heat-susceptible and heat-tolerant cattle.
  • Heat-susceptible cattle showed greater CBT between 8:00 and 23:00 and greater panting duration between 10:00 and 18:00 than heat-tolerant cattle under the same thermal conditions and these variations followed a similar pattern despite differences in cattle breed.
  • This new information enables targeted amelioration and selection of individuals against heat susceptibility.

Formulations of essential oils obtained from plants traditionally used as condiments or traditional medicine active against Staphylococcus aureus isolated from dairy cows with mastitis. Albuquerque KRS, Purgato GA, Diaz MAN, et al. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2023 Mar 1;76(3):ovad034.

  • The prophylactic and therapeutic overuse of antimicrobials on the farm has contributed to the emergence of hard-to-fight bacterial strains causing bovine mastitis.
  • Aiming at alternative therapies, this study evaluated the antimicrobial activity of 20 essential oils against clinical Staphylococcus aureus strains.
  • Of them, five with strong activities were selected and evaluated for their minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) in culture medium and milk, cytotoxicity against bovine mammary cells (MAC-T), antiadhesive properties, and interactions among themselves and with cefoperazone.
  • The oils remained active on milk, were not cytotoxic, and some concentrations stimulated MAC-T cells growth, suggesting healing potential. Subinhibitory concentrations of Coriandrum sativum, Origanum vulgare, Syzygium aromaticum, and Thymus vulgaris reduced biofilm formation by at least 80%. Several oil and cefoperazone combinations displayed additive interaction, with O. vulgare and C. sativum showing the most promising results.
  • The researchers developed formulations for being used as prophylactic postdipping solutions in the field, containing different concentrations (1% or 3%) of the active oils, alone or in combination, with 3% glycerin, 1% Tween 80, and water. The formulations showed strong antimicrobial activity in milk and enhanced antiadhesive properties, specially when two oils were combined in the formula, indicating promising biotechnological and therapeutical applications.


Metabolic and physiological adaptations to first and second lactation in Holstein dairy cows. Cattaneo L, Piccioli-Cappelli F, Minuti A, Trevisi E. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Mar 10:S0022-0302(23)00120-0.

  • Huge differences exist between cow yields and body sizes during their first and second lactations. The transition period is the most critical and investigated phase of the lactation cycle.
  • Researchers compared metabolic and endocrine responses between cows at different parities during the transition period and early lactation.
  • Eight Holstein dairy cows were monitored at their first and second calving during which they were reared under the same conditions. Milk yield, dry matter intake (DMI), and body weight (BW) were regularly measured, and energy balance, efficiency, and lactation curves were calculated. Blood samples were collected on scheduled days from -21 d relative to calving (DRC) to 120 DRC for the assessment of metabolic and hormonal profiles (biomarkers of metabolism, mineral status, inflammation, and liver function).
  • Large variations in the period in question for almost all variables investigated were observed. Compared with their first lactation, cows during their second lactation had higher DMI (+15%) and BW (+13%), their milk yield was greater (+26%), lactation peak was higher and earlier (36.6 kg/d at 48.8 DRC vs. 45.0 kg/d at 62.9 DRC), but persistency was reduced.
  • Milk fat, protein, and lactose contents were higher during the first lactation and coagulation properties were better (higher titratable acidity, faster and firmer curd formation). Postpartum negative energy balance was more severe the during the second lactation (1.4-fold at 7 DRC) and plasma glucose was lower.
  • Circulating insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 were lower in second-calving cows during the transition period. At the same time, markers of body reserve mobilization (β-hydroxybutyrate and urea) increased. Moreover, albumin, cholesterol, and γ-glutamyl transferase were higher during second lactation, whereas bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase were lower.
  • The inflammatory response after calving was not different, as suggested by the similar haptoglobin concentrations and only transient differences in ceruloplasmin. Blood growth hormone did not differ during the transition period but was lower during the second lactation at 90 DRC, whereas circulating glucagon was higher.
  • These results agree with the differences in milk yield and confirmed the hypothesis of a different metabolic and hormonal status between the first and second lactation partly related to different degrees of maturity.

Research advances of advanced glycation end products in milk and dairy products: Formation, determination, control strategy and immunometabolism via gut microbiota. Dong L, Li Y, Chen Q, Liu Y, Qiao Z, Sang S, Zhang J, Zhan S, Wu Z, Liu L. Food Chem. 2023 Mar 5;417:135861.

  • Advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs) are a series of complex compounds which generate in the advanced phase of Maillard reaction, which can pose a non-negligible risk to human health.
  • This article systematically encompasses AGEs in milk and dairy products under different processing conditions, influencing factors, inhibition mechanism and levels among the different categories of dairy products. In particular, it describes the effects of various sterilization techniques on the Maillard reaction.
  • Different processing techniques have a significant effect on AGEs content. In addition, it clearly articulates the determination methods of AGEs and even discusses its immunometabolism via gut microbiota.
  • It is observed that the metabolism of AGEs can affect the composition of the gut microbiota, which further has an impact on intestinal function and the gut-brain axis. This research also provides a suggestion for AGEs mitigation strategies, which are beneficial to optimize the dairy production, especially innovative processing technology application.

Human Health and Nutrition

Seeing the forest through the trees: the importance of the food matrix in diet quality and human health. Miller GD, Ragalie-Carr J, Torres-Gonzalez M. Adv Nutr. 2023 Mar 17:S2161-8313(23)00274-0.

  • The nutrition transition towards diets composed of high amounts of ultra-processed foods that are more refined, calorie-dense and nutrient poor, is considered a factor in the rise of diet-related metabolic diseases in low- and middle-income countries.
  • Historically, nutrition strategies aimed at mitigating metabolic diseases linked to sub-optimal diets have targeted isolated nutrients, like fat; however, they overlook the complexity and importance of the whole food and food matrices, which can lead to unintended consequences, such as avoidance of nutrient-dense foods.
  • Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yogurt are underconsumed, nutrient-dense foods that are often fall in the cross-hairs of reductionist nutrition strategies because of their contribution of calories, saturated fat, and sodium to the diet.
  • This article highlights dairy foods as an example for exploring the complex matrices of food, nutrients, and other bioactive components that are associated with improved nutrient status and reduced risk of metabolic diseases, while considering a holistic approach to improving diet quality and human health.
  • Historically, nutrition strategies aimed at mitigating metabolic diseases linked to sub-optimal diets have targeted isolated nutrients, like fat; however, they overlook the complexity and importance of the whole food and food matrices, and can lead to unintended consequences.

Effects of dairy intake on markers of cardio-metabolic health in adults – a systematic review with network meta-analysis. Kiesswetter E, Stadelmaier J, Schwingshackl L, et al. Adv Nutr. 2023 Mar 11:S2161-8313(23)00273-9.

  • Health effects of dairy products are still a matter of scientific debate due to inconsistent findings across trials.
  • Therefore, this systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) aimed to compare the effects of different dairy products on markers of cardio-metabolic health.
  • A systematic search was conducted in three electronic databases. Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were included with ≥12 week intervention comparing any two of the eligible interventions (e.g., high dairy [≥3 servings/day or equal amount in g/day], full-fat dairy, low-fat dairy, naturally fermented milk products, low dairy/control [0-2 servings/day or usual diet]).
  • Nineteen RCTs with 1427 participants were included. High dairy intake (irrespective of fat content) showed no detrimental effects on anthropometric outcomes, blood lipids, and blood pressure.
  • Both low-fat and full-fat dairy improved systolic blood pressure, but, concomitantly, may impair glycemic control and glycosylated hemoglobin.
  • Full-fat dairy may increase HDL-cholesterol compared to a control diet.
  • Yogurt improved waist circumference, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol compared to milk.
  • In conclusion, our findings indicate that there is little robust evidence that a higher dairy intake has detrimental effects on markers of cardio-metabolic health.

Dairy product consumption and incident prediabetes in the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study with 12 years follow up. Slurink IA, Chen L, Magliano DJ, Kupper N, Smeets T, Soedamah-Muthu SS. J Nutr. 2023 Mar 30:S0022-3166(23)35505-6.

  • Investigating modifiable risk factors of early stages of the development of type 2 diabetes is essential for effective prevention. Some studies show protective associations between dairy and prediabetes, yet associations are heterogenous by type and fat content of dairy foods.
  • The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between the consumption of dairy, including different types of dairy products and the risk of prediabetes.
  • The study included 4,891 participants with normal glucose tolerance (aged 49.0±12.3 years) of the Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle (AusDiab) study, a longitudinal population-based study. Dairy intake was measured at baseline using a food frequency questionnaire. Prediabetes at 5-year and 12-year follow-up was defined according to WHO criteria as fasting plasma glucose levels of 110-125 mg/dl or 2-hour plasma glucose levels of 140-199 mg/dl.
  • The mean intake of dairy foods was 2.4 ± 1.2 servings/day, mostly consisting of low-fat milk (0.70 ± 0.78) and high-fat milk (0.47 ± 0.72). A higher intake of high-fat dairy (RRservings/day, 0.92, high-fat milk (0.89), and total cheese (0.74) was associated with lower prediabetes risk. Low-fat milk intake was associated non-linearly with prediabetes risk. Low-fat dairy foods, total milk, yogurt, low-fat cheese, and ice cream were not associated with prediabetes risk.
  • In conclusion, in this large Australian cohort, protective associations were found for high-fat dairy types, while neutral associations were seen for low-fat dairy. Studies with more detail on sugar content of types of dairy foods and products eaten with dairy foods (e.g., cereals or jam), as well as studies into potential causal mechanisms of the health effects of dairy intake are required.

Age-Dependent Serum Volatilomics of Milk and Yogurt Intake: A Randomized Crossover Study in Healthy Young and Older Men. Meng HY, Kim J, Vergères G, et al. J Proteome Res. 2023 Mar 24.

  • Nutritional biomarkers of dairy intake can be affected by both food transformation and the metabolic status of the consumer.
  • To assess these effects, this study investigated the serum volatilome of 14 young (YA) and 14 older (OA) adult men undergoing a 3 week restriction of dairy and fermented foods followed by a randomized crossover acute intake of milk and yogurt.
  • 3,5-Dimethyl-octan-2-one was identified as a potential marker of dairy product intake as its response after both milk and yogurt intake was significantly increased during the postprandial phase but significantly decreased in fasting serum samples of the OA group after the restriction phase.
  • The postprandial response of two metabolites was significantly different for the two dairy products while 19 metabolites were modulated by age. Remarkably, the response of all age-dependent metabolites was higher in the OA than in the YA group after milk or yogurt intake, whereas at the end of the restriction phase, their fasting concentrations were lower in the OA than in the YA group.
  • Among these, p-cresol, a specific marker of colonic protein fermentation, had a significant response in the OA but not the YA group, which may suggest impaired intestinal processing of dietary proteins in the OA group.

Associations between dairy intake and mortality due to all-cause and cardiovascular disease: the Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study. Ge S, Zha L, Sobue T, Kitamura T, Iso H, Ishihara J, Kito K, Iwasaki M, Inoue M, Yamaji T, Tsugane S, Sawada N. Eur J Nutr. 2023 Mar 21.

  • Some studies have investigated the relation between dairy products and mortality, but with inconsistent results.
  • Researchers examined the association between the consumption of dairy products and the risk of all-cause, cancer-related, and cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related mortality over an average follow-up of 19.3 years.
  • From the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective (JPHC) study, 43,117 males and 50,193 females with no history of cancer or CVD finished the food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) and were included in the study. Intake of dairy products was assessed using the FFQ and adjusted for total energy by using the residual method.
  • For males, total dairy consumption was nonlinearly and significantly associated with lower risk of mortality from all causes and CVD. Milk and fermented milk intake were inversely associated with all-cause and CVD-related mortality in males. Cheese consumption was inversely associated with CVD-related mortality among males. There was no association between total dairy intake and mortality risk among females.
  • In conclusion, for Japanese people, consumption of dairy products was associated with a decreased risk of mortality from all-cause and cardiovascular diseases among males.

Dairy Foods, Weight Change, and Risk of Obesity During the Menopausal Transition. Yuan M, Hu FB, Li Y, Cabral HJ, Das SK, Deeney JT, Moore LL. J Nutr. 2023 Mar;153(3):811-819.

  • Weight gain during the menopausal transition is common. Dairy consumption may impact weight change during this critical period, and different dairy foods may have different effects.
  • This study aimed to investigate the associations of different types of dairy foods with weight gain and risk of obesity in perimenopausal women from the Nurses’ Health Study II cohort.
  • Weight change during the 12 years surrounding menopause was derived from self-reported weight data for 3 exams before and 3 after menopause. The mean age of the first weight measure was 45.8 years and the average BMI was 25.0 kg/m2. Dairy food intakes were estimated as mean intakes over the same 12 years.
  • In longitudinal analyses, those with the highest yogurt intakes had the lowest weight gain at every exam. This was not the case for other forms of dairy. After adjusting for potential covariates, those consuming ≥2.0 servings/week of yogurt (compared with <1.0 serving/month) had a 31% lower risk of obesity. The highest total dairy intake (≥2.0 servings/day compared with <1.0) was associated with only a 12% reduction in obesity risk.
  • Higher activity levels and alternative healthy eating index scores were independently associated with statistically significant reductions in risk of obesity, but higher intakes of yogurt strengthened these beneficial associations.
  • In conclusions, yogurt intake was associated with less weight gain and lower obesity risk in women during the menopausal transition.

Bifidobacteria modulate immune response in pediatric patients with cow’s milk protein allergy.Strisciuglio C, Vitale A, Perna F, Garziano F, Dolce P, Vitale S, Micillo T, Oglio F, Del Giudice MM, Matarese G, Gianfrani C. Pediatr Res. 2023 Mar 23.

  • In children with an allergy to cow’s milk proteins (CMA), the altered composition of intestinal microbiota influences the immune tolerance to milk proteins (CMP).
  • This study aims to investigate the effect of probiotics on the phenotype and activation status of peripheral basophils and lymphocytes in a pediatric CMA cohort.
  • CMA children underwent 45 days of treatment with Bifidobacteria. The basophil degranulation and the immune phenotype of B cells, T helper cells, and regulatory T cells were analyzed in peripheral blood at diagnosis (T0), after a 45-day probiotic treatment (T1), and 45 days after the probiotic wash-out (T2).
  • Researchers observed in probiotic-treated CMA patients a decrease in naive T lymphocytes. Among the CD3+ cell subsets, both naive and activated CD4+ cells resulted markedly reduced after taking probiotics, with the lowest percentages at T2. A decreased basophil degranulation was observed in response to all analyzed CMP at T1 compared to T0.
  • Overall, the probiotic treatment resulted in a decrease of circulating naive and activated CD4+ T cells, as well as degranulating basophils. These data suggest that the Bifidobacteria could have a beneficial effect in the modulation of oral tolerance to CMP.

Innovation, Economics, and Dairy Alternatives

Financial risk and resiliency on US dairy farms: Measures, thresholds, and management implications. Wolf CA, Karszes J. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Mar 2:S0022-0302(23)00098-X.

  • Given the revenue and cost volatility with resulting tight profit margins in dairy farming, it is increasingly important to measure, monitor, and understand farm financial risk. Solvency, liquidity, debt repayment capacity, and financial efficiency measures can reveal potential problem areas and assist in financial risk management.
  • Financial risk is defined as uncertainty about interest rates, willingness of lender to keep or put money into the business, ability to meet cash flow needs, and the market value of collateral. Financial resilience is defined as the ability to withstand events that impact firm net income. Solvency was measured by equity to asset ratio. Liquidity was measured by current ratio. Repayment capacity was measured by debt coverage ratio. Financial efficiency was measured by operational expense ratio and net farm income ratio.
  • Critical thresholds for these farm financial measures include those determined by US agricultural lenders since maintaining access to outside capital is important for farm financial management.
  • To demonstrate these concepts and measure financial risk and resilience, this research uses farm data from a balanced panel of 105 New York dairy farms from 2010 through 2019.
  • Results reveal that there were 4 average, 2 good, and 4 poor financial years for these operations on average as measured by farm profitability. Solvency positions were relatively stable being based on long-term asset and liability values. During the poor years, the percent of farms below danger thresholds for liquidity and debt repayment capacity spiked.

Consumer preferences for sustainably produced ultra-high-temperature milk in China. Li S, Lopez RA, Zhu C, Liu Y. J Dairy Sci. 2023 Mar 2:S0022-0302(23)00096-6.

  • Contrary to ongoing declines in per capita milk consumption in the United States and Europe, per capita milk consumption in China is experiencing dramatic increases, making China one of the most dynamic global dairy markets. Meeting the rapid growth in milk demand presents environmental challenges under current dairy farm production in China.
  • This article measures Chinese consumer valuation of environmentally sustainable milk and of correlated attributes such as food safety and geographic origin. The authors used a discrete choice experiment to collect survey data from a stratified sample of respondents in 5 cities.
  • Applying a mixed logit demand model to the data, they estimated the probability of choosing sustainably produced UHT pasteurized milk over conventional milk, as well as consumers’ willingness to pay for the sustainably produced milk.
  • Empirical results confirm that, overall, consumers value sustainably produced milk as they are willing to pay a premium of $2.01/L, well above the cost of conventional milk. Consumer segments more likely to purchase sustainably produced milk include the young, males, and childless households, as well as those already concerned about the environment and food safety.
  • In addition, this article also finds that consumers exhibit a strong degree of home bias in that they prefer domestic brands with domestically sourced raw milk. Valuable new knowledge is provided for policy makers, producers, and marketers interested in designing marketing strategies, and for other researchers interested in general food sustainability issues.

Recent innovations and emerging technological advances used to improve quality and process of plant-based milk analogs. Mehany T, Siddiqui SA, Bangar S, et al. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Mar 1:1-31.

  • The worldwide challenges related to food sustainability are presently more critical than ever before due to the severe consequences of climate change, outbreak of epidemics, and wars. Many consumers are shifting their dietary habits toward consuming more plant-based foods, such as plant milk analogs (PMA) for health, sustainability, and well-being reasons.
  • The PMA market is anticipated to reach US$38 billion within 2024, making them the largest segment in plant-based foods. Nevertheless, using plant matrices to produce PMA has numerous limitations, including, among others, low stability and short shelf life.
  • This review addresses the main obstacles facing quality and safety of PMA formula. Moreover, this literature overview discusses the emerging approaches, e.g., pulsed electric field (PEF), cold atmospheric plasma (CAP), ultrasound (US), ultra-high-pressure homogenization (UHPH), ultraviolet C (UVC) irradiation, ozone (O3), and hurdle technology used in PMA formulations to overcome their common challenges.
  • These emerging technologies have a vast potential at the lab scale to improve physicochemical characteristics, increase stability and extend the shelf-life, decrease food additives, increase nutritional and organoleptic qualities of the end product.
  • Although the PMA fabrication on a large scale using these technologies can be expected in the near future to formulate novel food products that can offer green alternatives to conventional dairy products, further development is still needed for wider commercial applications.

“Got Milk Alternatives?” Understanding Key Factors Determining U.S. Consumers’ Willingness to Pay for Plant-Based Milk Alternatives. Rombach M, Dean DL, Bitsch V. Foods. 2023 Mar 17;12(6):1277.

  • Milk is an important dairy product in U.S. food retail. Lifestyle changes toward climate-conscious consumption, animal welfare, and food safety concerns have increased the popularity of plant-based milk alternatives.
  • This study is focused on such beverages and provides insights and best practice recommendations for marketing managers in the U.S. food retail sector. An online survey was distributed to explore factors explaining the intentions of U.S. consumers to purchase and pay a premium for plant-based milk alternatives.
  • Food curiosity and food price inflation were identified as relevant for both willingness to buy and willingness to pay a price premium. In addition, animal welfare concerns and the green and clean product image of plant-based alternatives were relevant to the willingness to pay a premium for plant-based milk.

Metabonomic analysis of human and 12 kinds of livestock mature milk. Wang Z, Sun Y, Wu R, et al. Food Chem X. 2023 Jan 20;17:100581.

  • Mature milk, as a nutrient-rich endogenous metabolite, has various beneficial effects on the human body. At present, the global milk production is dominated by five kinds of animals, with cows accounting for 83 % of the total milk production, followed by buffalo (13%), goats (2%), sheep (1%), and camels (0.4%).
  • The objective of this study was to investigate the specific nutrients provided by different dairy products to humans.
  • This investigation used UHPLC-Q-TOF MS to analyze the highly significantly differentially expressed metabolites in 13 species of mammalian mature milk, which were grouped into 17 major metabolite classes with 1992 metabolites based on chemical classification.
  • KEGG shows that 5 pathways in which differentially significant metabolites are actively involved are ABC transporters, Purine metabolism, Pyrimidine metabolism, Phosphotransferase system, Galactose metabolism.
  • The study found that pig milk and goat milk are closer to human milk and contain more nutrients that are beneficial to human health, followed by camel milk and cow milk.
  • In the context of dairy production, the development of goat milk is more likely to meet human needs and health.

Moral emotions and justifying beliefs about meat, fish, dairy and egg consumption: A comparative study of dietary groups. Ioannidou M, Lesk V, Stewart-Knox B, Francis KB. Appetite. 2023 Mar 23:106544.

  • Meat eaters and meat abstainers differ in their beliefs and moral emotions related to meat consumption alongside gender differences. Few studies have investigated beliefs and moral emotions in pescatarians and vegans. Little is known about differences in moral emotions and beliefs regarding dairy, eggs, and fish or about speciesist beliefs within and between specific dietary groups.
  • To address this gap, researchers investigated moral emotions (consumption-related disgust and guilt), attitudes towards animals (Animal Attitudes Scale) and justifying beliefs related to meat (Carnism Inventory), dairy, egg, and fish consumption in omnivores (n = 167), pescatarians (n = 110), vegetarians (n = 116), and vegans (n = 149).
  • Results showed that people who consumed animal-derived products reported lower disgust and guilt and held stronger justifying beliefs about consumption of these products than those who did not consume animal products.
  • All dietary groups significantly differed from each other in their attitudes about using animals for human benefit, with omnivores showing the least positive attitudes towards animals, followed by pescatarians and vegetarians, and with vegans showing the most positive attitudes towards animals.
  • Women experienced greater moral emotions and held fewer justifying beliefs than men within groups where animal products were consumed and related to the animal-based products they consume (i.e., fish for pescatarians and eggs/dairy for vegetarians).
  • The results highlight differences between dietary groups in attitudes and moral concern towards animals, which may be important to consider when designing interventions to reduce animal product consumption.