A systems approach to improve quality and shelf life of organic dairy products for domestic and export markets”

This project is a collaboration between six different universities across the nation. The focus is improving quality and shelf life of organic dairy products.

Bacterial spores are a significant quality problem in many dairy products (powders, cheeses, and fluid milk).  High levels of spores can lead to product defects, spoilage, or an inability to export product to overseas markets.  Solving this problem will require a more thorough understanding of the sources and behavior of spores throughout the farm-to-fork supply chain.  Engagement with dairy industry experts will be critical to correctly interpreting our results, identifying practical strategies, and testing verifying improvements in the “real world”.   In four years, our goal is to have a clear picture of sources and control points for sporeformers in the dairy system and effective training materials to support farm-level and processing-level interventions that reduce the impact of sporeformers on dairy product quality. 

Our first task is to populate a national advisory council that will guide the progress of research and extension approaches throughout the four-year study period and beyond.  The research team and advisory council will meet quarterly to plan and strategize various components of the project, assist with meaningful interpretation of the results, guide next steps, and support education and outreach plans.  

Our next step is to quantify the spore load of raw milk on dairy farms throughout the US. Raw bulk tank milk samples will be collected from 100 organic dairy farms every other month throughout 2020.  We are looking for 15 organic dairy farms in Oregon to participate in this study. Participation will involve the completion of a survey of dairy practices as well as a commitment to allow samples to be collected and analyzed for microbial spores. 

If you are interested in participating, we would love to hear from you. You can email me at carson.davis@oregonstate.edu .

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