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Effect of temperature on the microstructure of fat globules and the immunoglobulin-mediated interactions between fat and bacteria in natural raw milk creaming

D'Incecco, P., Ong, L., Pellegrino, L., Faoro, F., Barbiroli, A., Gras, S.
Journal of dairy science 2018 v.101 no.4 pp. 2984-2997
Clostridium tyrobutyricum, Grana cheese, agglutination, bacteria, cheesemaking, confocal laser scanning microscopy, denaturation, droplets, fat globules, immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin M, lipid content, microstructure, milk, raw milk, spores, temperature, transmission electron microscopy, vegetative cells
Natural creaming of raw milk is the first step in production of Grana Padano and Parmigiano Reggiano Protected Denomination of Origin cheeses. This process decreases the fat content and plays an important role in the removal of clostridia species that may cause late-blowing defects in ripened cheeses. Partial coalescence of fat globules—that may influence fat behavior in cheese making and affect the microstructure of fat in the final cheese product—was observed at creaming temperatures higher than 22°C by confocal laser scanning microscopy. The widespread practice of heating of milk at 37°C before creaming at 8°C resulted in important changes in the size distribution of fat globules in raw milk, potentially altering the ability of fat to entrap clostridia spores. We investigated the role of immunoglobulin classes in both the clustering of fat globules and the agglutination of Clostridium tyrobutyricum to fat globules during creaming. Immunogold labeling and transmission electron microscopy showed that IgA and IgM but not IgG were involved in both clustering and agglutination. Both vegetative cells and spores were clearly shown to agglutinate to fat droplets, a process that was suppressed by thermal denaturation of the immunoglobulins. The debacterization of raw milk through natural creaming was improved by the addition of purified immunoglobulins. Overall, these findings provide not only a better understanding of the phenomena occurring during the natural creaming but also practical insights into how the process of creaming may be optimized in cheese production plants.