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A quick pasteurization method for donated mother’s milk

An Italian technology will allow to preserve many more nutritional and biological values of mother’s milk, through pasteurization of human milk donated to Milk Banks.

Guido Moro, president of the Italian Association of Donated Human Milk Banks (AIBLUD), Laura Cavallarin of CNR in Turin and Enrico Bertino, director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Center of Torino University, invented a new method of quick pasteurizationfrom 5 to 15 secondsat high temperature – 72°C – to preserve main properties of donated milk. Today, the ilk donated to the banks (34 in Italy and 210 in Europe) is processed through traditional Holder pasteurization (62,5°C for 30 minutes), which unfortunately destroys many bioactive and nutritional ingredients, thus reducing its positive effects.

This method guarantees a safe and low-impact pasteurization process, which is ideal for the different volumes of donations since it is able to pasteurize up to 10 l of milk per hour, with a minimum volume of 100 ml.

The role of breast milk in the development of  premature babies

It is well know how mother’s ilk plays a crucial role in the survival and correct development of premature newborns: It provide enzymes, proteins, fats and other bioactive principles that foster growth of immature organs and gastro-intestinal and metabolic systems in premature newborns, it also decreases grave diseases percentage, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, premature retinopathy and numerous other conditions that put the newborns’ survival in danger. Breast milk can have a substantial and long-term impact on cognitive development in premature babies, who have a higher chance to develop neurologic disorders compared to end-term newborns.

According to Prof. Moro, the unrivalled value of mother’s milk for premature newborns and end-terms babies has never been more obvious and the medical community, along with government and society, have the duty to make the necessary changes in order to ensure that all newborns can receive an ideal breastfeeding, and that mothers and children receive the necessary support to provide them with it.

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A massive herd of sardinian sheeps Sardinia for Earthquake-stricken populations

massive herd of sheep, including numerous lambs, took off from Sardinia directed to Umbria; Sardinian sheep breeders have donated almost a thousand sheep. A significant gesture that helps giving back hope to their ill-fated colleagues who lost their animals during the terrible earthquake, around seven months ago.

Sa paradura, an ancient tradition

This is a way to renew the ancient agricultural tradition of “Sa paradura”, when one or more sheep are donated to those stricken by bad luck in order to help them get back on their feet. According to the calculations from Coldiretti based on the last Istat survey, over 25 thousand agricultural companies and stables have been hit by the earthquake in 131 communes spread over Lazio, Marche, Umbria and Abruzzo, covering an astounding 292 thousand hectares of agricultural lands, mostly employed for vegetable farming and grazing, the vast majority of companies (96,5%) being family-run businesses. 40 thousand sheep generating a flourishing of satellite agricultural and industrial activities, with many cheese makers producing world-renowned high-end delicacies.

Operation maxi herd, organized by Coldiretti, involved sheep coming from all over Sardinia, from Barbagia to Gallura, from Ogliastra to Campidano, from Nurra to Sarrabus, and the gathering point was the Bonassai Agris research center, in the Sassari area where the sheep were loaded on trucks and brought to the Olbia white port, where, last March 31, they embarked a cargo ship directed to Civitavecchia and then arrived in Cascia, Umbria. They decided to assign the sheep to 40 Umbrian shepherds with a randomized procedure – called “a stumbu” – carried out by a blindfolded kid, according to the criteria of the ancient tradition. A gesture of help for the earthquake-stricken farmlands.

The hurdles of Sardinia shepherds

Sardinia, land of shepherds where 40% of Italian sheep can be found, divided in the 12 thousand breeding farms all over the island, wanted to give its contribution, although this sector is navigating through really difficult times: just consider that the daily milking of a sheep yields an average of one liter of milk a day which price on the market is almost half of what it was two years ago – just 60 cents compared to 1 euro in the second half of 2015.

We have witnessed numerous examples of solidarity during these last months, a sign that the primary Italian sector is alive and still and integral part of the country’s social fabric: from the “adopt a cow” operation, which has already found a home for at least 2000 sheep and cows that had lost theirs due to collapsed stables, to the “give a bail” project aimed to guarantee food for the livestock. Ordinary people also took part in the aids: just consider that over 50 thousand Italians tasted the “solidarity Caciotta”, a cheese made with the milk coming from the earthquake-stricken areas of Norcia, Amatrice and Leonessa, and the “friend Cacio”, made with milk from Marche farms.

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The yogurt lactobacillus to fight depression

Could depression, the “dark evil” affecting more and more people worldwide, be cured with yogurt? It looks like it could. The disease might be treated thanks to appropriate changes in diet in order to act on the liver’s microflora. This is the result of a study conducted by the Virginia University and published on “Scientific Reports” in which they have identified the key role of lactobacillus, a typical bacterium found in yogurt.

According to Alban Gaultier, one of the authors of the study, we might be able to get rid of complicated drugs and side effects because we are simply going to act on the microbiome.

The research has been monitoring symptoms of depression in mice, observing in particular their response to the composition of bacteria found in liver. Scientists have determined that levels of lactobacillus in stressed mice would then read the most during times of stress and by integrating this element in their diet, they behavior would almost go back to normal. In other words, yogurt may become an important source in order to stock up on those substances we need to fight depression.

Lactobacillus vs. Kynurenine

To be specific, the study found out that the influence of lactobacillus on symptoms of depression is related to its role as controller of another substance, a metabolite known as kynurenine, which concentration in the blood rises as the lactobacillus’ decreases, therefore inducing the unpleasant symptoms of depression.

Human trial

As it often happens in these instances, although some behaviors observed in mice might be commonly recognized as symptoms of depression, the major limitation of this study is the absence of confirmation on humans. And this is the next goal for the US team: University of Virginia has released a statement saying that the first subjects on which they will try to validate the results of this extraordinary study will be patients of multiple sclerosis, since they are often subject to this kind of psychological disorders.

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Sheep milk mozzarella is unique to Italy

Mozzarella from sheep milk is not simple to make for various reasons which are purely technical: the variability of sheep milk, its acidification and the maturation of the curd. And yet in Italy there are people who have got heavily involved in the production of what is defined by those who have tried it as a real delight. We are talking about companies located in regions with strong agropastoral traditions, inevitably Sardinia, Sicily and Lazio.

Mozzarella from sheep milk in Sicily…

In Sicily there is even talk of the PDO logo. The young Sicilian Lina Cammarata was the first to speak about it; after graduating she dedicated herself to producing cheese made from sheep milk in Caseificio Isidoro, her father’s dairy, based in Castelvetrano.

In Sardinia 

It is a niche product limited to a group of connoisseurs due to it being difficult to produce as previously mentioned. In 2013 it was produced by the livestock farm Pab’è is tèllasa (“stony ridge”) belonging to Marco Melis and Maria Atzeni from Sant’Andrea Frius in the mountainous area of Gerrei, the province of Cagliari. “To realize it”, says Maria Atzeni, “four years of work were required as sheep milk is difficult to spin in such a way as to create a soft product like cow’s or buffalo mozzarella”. The company produces about a hundred kilogrammes of mozzarella per week, owns roughly 500 sheep and produces about 50,000 litres of milk per year. It has about twenty products in its basket including goodies like Joddu (ancient yoghurt made with traditional raw sheep milk), Pirittas and Callau axedu.

… and in Lazio

Is there a history of sheep milk mozzarella? It would seem so, at least according to the Associazione Formaggi Storici della Campagna Romana (Association of Historical Cheeses of the Roman Countryside) due to a product called mozzarovi, which was produced by Caseificio De Juliis towards the end of the 90s and appears to be based on a recipe used by the ancient Romans, from Columella, in 50 AD, in his book De Re Rustica, to Apicio (first century AD) in his book De re coquinaria.

Production Techniques

For the Associazione Formaggi Storici della Campagna Romana, mozzarella from sheep milk is produced with raw whole sheep milk to which lamb rennet is added. The breaking of the curd occurs at a temperature of 36°C; it is broken up into pieces the size of a hazelnut (roughly 1 cm). After being broken up, the curd is left to acidify (6-20 hours) and is then broken into pieces approximately 2×2 cm in size. Hot water is added at roughly 80°C. The curd is quickly spun by hand, stretching the paste considerably; the mozzarella is also made by hand. The mozzarella is then cooled in water at about 10°C, placed in brine for roughly five hours and then packaged in its own liquid.

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Whey for denaturizing asbestos

Destroying asbestos using whey and producing CO2 and other harmless and marketable elements? It can be done. It is a real godsend for a country like Italy, hit by serious shortages: according to the Department of Production Installations and Anthropic Settlements (DIPIA) of Inail, in June 2013 there were only 73 disposal sites in the whole country of which only 19 were active and in 8 regions, mostly in the South, dumps are completely absent. 23 years after asbestos was banned (L. 257/1992), Italy, first country in Europe to do that, is still facing the disposal of asbestos products and is not prepared to handle the health emergency that could arise as a consequence.

The patent for neutralizing asbestos and therefore cut down disposal costs comes from Bologna University, thanks to a research led by Prof. Roberto Roveri, full professor of general chemistry at the Bologna Institute, regarding the possible neutralization of negative effects tied to asbestos cement, the dangerous material composed of 90% cement and sand and 10% asbestos.

How does this process take place? The chemical reaction from the union of these two elements creates simple carbon dioxide and leaves a residue of calcium and asbestos fibers on the bottom. These must not be disposed of in a normal dump but they must be completely destroyed in total safety using a secondary process. Everything is based on a double-phase immersion of the products in the acid byproducts of cheesemaking processes. The first phase makes the cement soluble, while the second one, at 180°C, is supposed to completely destroy the asbestos fibers.

The system is supposedly risk-free, since it takes place within a pressurized liquid therefore preventing the really dangerous asbestos particles to become volatile.

As anticipated, this process comes with the possibility to create marketable products, for instance water paints or fertilizers. But that is just the beginning, in fact, through a simple electrolytic process there is also the possibility to obtain magnesium, nickel, manganese and other remarkably valuable metals that are not easily found in Italy.

The case for Puglia

The first implant for asbestos neutralization through whey designed by Project Resources Asbestos srl was supposed to be built in Melpignano, a small town in Puglia with around 2000 inhabitants; the plan has been stopped by the population and then moved to Andria, where a pilot industrial plant is still under evaluation.

The inhabitants of the small village in Salento opposed to the project also using a parliamentary question, in which it is reported that in Italy there are over 100 patents for neutralizing asbestos, none of which reached adequate safety standards and an acceptable cost/benefit ratio.

Local associations, for what concerns the process patented by Chemical Center Srl, asked themselves many questions. One of the main features of the project, for instance, is the recycling not only of the whey but also of other byproducts, if sufficiently acid, such those derived by viticulture or olive milling, that is “food waste typical of the region where the implant is situated”. However, in order to process the 10 tons of asbestos a day expected by the business plan, 50 to  1000 tons of whey would be necessary: a quantity the region doesn’t have. Moreover, as the Pugliesi state, it is unclear how the chemical reaction between asbestos and whey could be reproduced using the other acid refluxes mentioned and it is not clear what safety procedures should be applied in the implant during the phase of transportation/storage/treatment of asbestos products.

The Chamber, in the matter of Melpignano and the project by Chemical Center srl, responded that Ispra (Superior Institute for Environmental Research) has never been involved in the evaluation of the project nor it has the technical specifications to proceed to assess said project.

Now, it looks like the company is giving it one more shot in Salento, more specifically in the industrial area of Cavallino, where it is asking to realize an experimental prototype for demonstration purposes of a treatment facility for processing asbestos cement products through whey.

The petition has been filed last October 7 to the Ministry of Environment, besides being filed to the Comune, to the Lecce Province and the Region of Puglia. The petition asks to verify the project subjection to feasibility and citizens have 45 days to file possible observations. Project Resource Asbestos S.r.l filed the request, along with Rei which owns the Galatone asbestos disposal site, and Ambiente&Sviluppo which manages the bio-stabilization implant and the former Galatone disposal site, and Geoambiente, which presented the project for the new special non-dangerous waste disposal site in contrada Masseria Parachianca, Lecce.

In Cavallino, they ask to start a reduced scale prototype which would be smaller than Andria’s with a potential of around 20 kg/cycle. Anyway, from Salento to Terra di Bari, still in the Region of Puglia.

Disposal sites and incinerators will disappear starting from 2020

There are currently other methods to denaturize asbestos but they are outrageously expensive. In France and Germany, for instance, they use thermal processes that crystallizes and make asbestos inert at around 800°C, by using a plasma lightbulb, which is effective but very expensive at a price point of around €900/ton, and introduces toxic gases in the atmosphere at the same time. In Italy, disposal sites are still the most popular solution, with a cost of just €140/ton, however it is an extremely dangerous solution and not a long-term one either: asbestos is packaged and disposed of in disposal sites, abandoned quarries that are coated in polymers. This choice involves high levels of criticality. In the disposal sites, asbestos bales are pressed together to be better buried. These practice is extremely dangerous because it crashes the asbestos inside the packages, making it volatile and therefore carcinogenic once the external package, in a 20 to 30 years, will inevitably give and the fibers will break free and pollute the aquifers.

In the meantime, the European commission ruled to ban incinerators and waste disposal sites within the year 2020. Therefore, we need an alternative solution.

The method invented by Bologna University, which extracts useful raw materials from asbestos destruction, would not only eliminate the need to create new disposal sites but it could also represent an incentive to reclaim existing ones. The process created by the researcher team, not only looks effective, but it could also provide several economic advantages. First of all, the main chemical reagent of the process is whey, which is a byproduct of the agribusiness, and could therefore be disposed of through a process presenting “zero” costs and zero environmental impact.

The results of the experts of Bologna University are being evaluated by the Ministry of Environment, which will have to decide about authorizing and possibly releasing funds for building the first facility.

Doubts

Unfortunately, it looks like asbestos, at the end of the denaturation process, doesn’t completely disappear, but it just reduces its concentration (passing from 12% concentration to 2%). So, where do the residues go? Where to keep the facility filters which will partly contain them? And if there are residues, can we be sure the byproducts of the processing, such as the fertilizers, will be totally asbestos-free? These are reasonable and appropriate questions.

Mesothelioma, a disease caused mainly by asbestos, and all other disease tied to asbestos are still on the rise, and given the long latency period between exposition to the mineral and insurgence of the disease, the peak of one of the most aggressive neoplasia known to mankind is expected in around 2022.

The disposal of RCA (Asbestos-Containing Waste) is still not mandatory and if costs will remain so high, given the scarcity of disposal sites and appropriate neutralization facilities, we will still witness the illegal abandonment of corrugated materials and the likes, which will be exposed to the weather for a long time and will start to degrade and eventually let deadly fibers loose in the air.

The National Asbestos Plan was born 2012 and, to this day, haven’t been deployed yet. Cigl, Cisl and Uil Piemonte – one of the regions that have been hit the most by this issue, also due to the on-site presence of production sites – as of last October, once again state how important it is to classify asbestos disposal sites as Sites of National Interest, to incentivize the disposal of RCA with tax relieves and deliver them free of charge to the disposal facilities, and also define a maximum lifespan (25/30 years) for asbestos products.

What else is missing? Verification and evaluation by the Minister of Environment, to which Prof. Roveri has been asking hearing for several years, however there is never time to evaluate this project. Yet each territory could have its own asbestos processing facility. We hope operations to assess the validity of the process will start as soon as possible, without the usual delays due to bureaucracy, because in the meantime, mesothelioma is still killing people.

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Milk production in South America is falling

In recent months the dairy sector in South America has been affected by unstable weather conditions which have caused extensive damage. In Argentina, for exampe, milk production is continuing to decline partly due to the large number of cows that have died following recent flooding. The weather has now improved, especially in the states of Córdoba and Santa Fe, although the hot summer temperatures are increasing cattle stress. Consumption of bottled milk is on the rise mostly thanks to the reopening of schools. The national milk supply does not meet the needs of processing plants, and so much so that some processing companies are preferring to produce cheese instead of milk powders.

Likewise, there has also been a drop in production in Uruguay due to the high temperatures. However, the situation is now stabilizing. Unlike neighbouring Argentina, the milk supply is able to meet the needs of the dairy industry even though the low levels of fat and protein in the milk – due to the season – result in a reduction in butter production.

On now to talk about the largest Latin American country – Brazil. Milk production is seeing a seasonal decrease accentuated by unstable weather conditions and high day-time temperatures, which is keeping raw milk prices afloat.
Just like Uruguayan milk, the fat and protein content is low and the milk supply does not appear to be sufficient to meet the high demand from processing companies. The cream sector is being boosted by the lower availability of fat and a strong demand from manufacturers of butter and other cream-based products.

Milk sales trends

Milk sales have decreased in the four main South American countries, albeit very differently. There has been a sharp drop in Argentina with sales registering -14.38% compared to 2015. Brazil (period of reference January-September 2016) has suffered a sales decrease of 5% compared to 2015. The drop in sales has been decidedly less pronounced both in Uruguay, with January 2017 falling by 1.45% compared to the same month the previous year, and Chile, which is almost stable at -0.29% ( clal.it data).

The Northern Hemisphere is beating the Southern Hemisphere in milk production

It is worth pointing out how, at a global level, the main players in milk production from the Northern Hemisphere (Belarus, Turkey, Ukraine, the 28 EU member countries and the United States) have performed better in terms of growth in the last three years (from 23,730,400 tonnes in May 2013 to 25,735,800 tonnes in May 2016) than countries in the Southern Hemisphere (Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and Uruguay which decreased from 5,691,500 tonnes in October 2013 to 5,259,300 tonnes in October 2016 – clal.it data).

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Sardinian sheep milk yield, a study aims to increase it

Is there some way to increase dairy properties and, therefore, the yield of sheep milk obtained from Sardinian sheep, based on good genetics and also thanks to the development of innovative techniques for predicting lactation periods? It looks like the answer is yes.

A project led by Nicola Macciotta of the Department of Agriculture Sciences of the Univeristy of Sassari, in collaboration with the Regional Farmers Association, Assonapa and Apa, aims to do just that. The project has been presented a few days ago in Milan during the seminary promoted by the Italian Farmers Association on “New analytic technologies and innovative instruments for consultancy”; Stefano Sanna and Marino Contu, president and vice-president of Aras respectively, also took part in the seminary.

Increase in sheep milk yield: the project in-depth

The Sampling campaign, as Macciotta explains, has been conducted on 1200 of Sardinian sheep registered in the genealogic book, distributed over 50 breeding farms located all over the region and it involved the sampling of biologic material, through sinus tampons and individual milk samples. Analysis of data obtained from determination of lactodinamographic parameters, with the help of Formagraph and the determination of individual yield, by means of micro cheese-making procedures, highlighted a good genetic variability with a possibility to increase it by selective breeding.

The study – as Marino Contu states, allowed to develop innovative methods to obtain forecast indexes that can be used in routine analyses to identify milk’s predisposition to cheese-making at no additional costs for genetics selection programs.

Sardinian breeding system is at the cutting edge in terms of technology and innovation – says Stefano Sanna. This is also possible thanks to synergies that are being carried out for years with the Academic and research world. Our technicians are the glue connecting these realities and they put new studies into practice every day in the breeding farms.

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Crisis for Pecorino Romano, institutional negotiations begin

In Sardinia, crowds gather in the squares to protest against the general crisis of the sheep and goats rearing sector. To this regard, the Italian Farmers Association, along with a delegation of farmers from Sardinia chose to start talks and negotiations with institutions: the main goal is still rescuing around 12,000 island companies on the verge of collapsing. It’s easy to see the reason: price of Pecorino Romano cheese has been basically cut in half, decreasing from €9.50 per kilogram to €5.20 per kilogram, with grave repercussions on price of milk at the stable which lost over 50% of its value.

Pecorino Romano and proposals in the talks

Various proposals have been submitted, with the end goal to safeguard the income of producers and farmers saving them from the relentless downward spiral of prices, from the activation of a Guarantee Fund to the necessary elimination of Agea Contest for the needy with the inclusion of Pecorino Romano in the product basket, passing through the automated payment of communitarian obligations. Among other things, representatives ask for facilitated access to agricultural loans with interest protection through the use of De Minimis, activation of a regional rotation Fund made accessible by agricultural companies, directly guaranteed by stocked products already present in the warehouses.

Structural Interventions

Structural and organizational interventions that are needed by the sheep and goats rearing industry have also been inserted in the proposals. There is emphasis on the necessity to face the problem of production organization, which is strongly scattered, as an example by fostering an Interprofessional approach, even in case of specific products (Dop and Igp). All of this along a valorization of the Sardinian quality brand as identity instrument to recognize productions, managed by agricultural companies and regional agro-industrial organs.

Farmers and breeders of the island can only hope their instances will be accepted and all the necessary measures will be implemented in a timely manner in order not to waste a unique heritage of knowledge and professions and to guarantee the livelihood of thousands of families in Sardinia.

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Sheep milk, the right choice!

Why is it really better to consume sheep milk?

There are various, good reasons…

- Its original flavour and taste

– It contains more calcium and minerals (such as zinc) than other types of milk.

– It is particularly rich in folic acid and Vitamin B 12, which are important for preventing spina bifida.

Find out the other important advantages and characteristics of this unique product in our short video.

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Rabobank quarterly report, China and price increase amongst keywords

Milk production from countries with the highest export volume has sensibly decreased, from the 2,6 million tons of the second half of 2016, especially milk stocks coming from Oceania and Europe. Moreover, if we take into account the fact that internal demand in the United States and Europe has been growing more and more strong, it is easy to see how available inventories for export are dwindling (four and a half million tons) and, as a consequence, we are seeing an increase in milk prices on a global scale (up over 45% during the second half of this year).

Demand is growing the most for products such as cheeses and butter. Consequently, demand for butyric fat matter will lead the market and weight heavily on it, at least according to the quarterly report by Rabobank relative to third quarter of 2016.

According to Rabobank’s Kevin Bellamy, “Milk production all over the world, during the second half of this year, seemed to be in very bad shape. European production grew stronger, not only thanks to low prices, but also in reaction to efforts coming from European aids (ability to remove a million tons of milk from the market). Meanwhile, we see poor production from Oceania, with New Zealand far away from last year’s 6% production level”.

Key elements of Robobank quarterly report

Various scenarios with various interpretations can be extrapolated from Robobank’s quarterly report: the current rise in prices will be followed by a further increase; at the same time, milk offer in all regions will not grow overnight, in spite of better prices for milk. We will have to wait at least till mid-2017 in order to see an actual recovery of production and available inventories for export; China will aggressively enter the international market, with a forecasted 20% increase of imports. However, an additional increase in US Dollar’s strength, combined with higher prices for raw material, might be able to also favor other importing regions who may play a key role.

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