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J Dairy Sci. 2019 Aug 22. pii: S0022-0302(19)30716-7. doi: 10.3168/jds.2019-16304. [Epub ahead of print]

Bacterial spore levels in bulk tank raw milk are influenced by environmental and cow hygiene factors.

Author information

1
Milk Quality Improvement Program, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. Electronic address: nhw6@cornell.edu.
2
Milk Quality Improvement Program, Department of Food Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853.

Abstract

Sporeforming bacteria are responsible for the spoilage of several dairy products including fluid milk, cheese, and products manufactured using dried dairy powders as ingredients. Sporeforming bacteria represent a considerable challenge for the dairy industry because they primarily enter the dairy product continuum at the farm, survive processing hurdles, and subsequently grow in finished products. As such, strategies to reduce spoilage due to this group of bacterial contaminants have focused on understanding the effect of farm level factors on the presence of spores in bulk tank raw milk with the goal of reducing spore levels in raw milk, as well as understanding processing contributions to spore levels and outgrowth in finished products. The goal of the current study was to investigate sources of spores in the farm environment and survey farm management practices to identify variables using multimodel inference, a model averaging approach that eliminates the uncertainty of traditional model selection approaches, that affect the presence and levels of spores in bulk tank raw milk. To this end, environmental samples including feed, bedding, manure, soil, water, and so on, and bulk tank raw milk were collected twice from 17 upstate New York dairy farms over a 19-mo period and the presence and levels of various spore types (e.g., psychrotolerant, mesophilic, thermophilic, highly heat resistant thermophilic, specially thermoresistant thermophilic, and anaerobic butyric acid bacteria) were assessed. Manure had the highest level of spores for 4 out of 5 aerobic spore types with mean counts of 5.87, 5.22, 4.35, and 3.68 log cfu/g of mesophilic, thermophilic, highly heat resistant thermophilic, and specially thermoresistant thermophilic spores, respectively. In contrast, bulk tank raw milk had mean spore levels below 1 log cfu/mL across spore types. Multimodel inference was used to determine variables (i.e., management factors, environmental spore levels, and meteorological data from each sampling) that were important for presence or levels of each spore type in bulk tank raw milk. Analyses indicated that variables of importance for more than one spore type included the residual level of spores in milk from individual cows after thorough teat cleaning and forestripping, udder hygiene, clipping or flaming of udders, spore level in feed commodities, spore level in parlor air, how often bedding was topped up or changed, the use of recycled manure bedding, and the use of sawdust bedding. These results improve our understanding of how spores transfer from environmental sources into bulk tank raw milk and provide information that can be used to design intervention trials aimed at reducing spore levels in raw milk.

KEYWORDS:

dairy product quality; farm practice; spore source

PMID:
31447152
DOI:
10.3168/jds.2019-16304

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