This new study which looks at the dairy industry in Argentina finds that 61.4% of bulk milk stocks are contaminated by Aspergillus with more contaminated by other moulds and Aspergillus was isolated from 30% samples taken from individual cows.
The animals concerned belonged to 44 dairy establishments located in Cordoba province, in the central region of Argentina during March to September, 2009. Cordoba province produces 37 % of the country’s total milk and is the main milk production area with 3,000 dairy establishments.To make matters more concerning one third of those strains of Aspergillus found were capable of producing the mycotoxin Gliotoxin which is an immunosuppressive poison that is strictly controlled in food. The presence of this toxin correlated with poor quality of the milk as measured by high SCC (Somatic Cell Count).
The study revealed that the highest levels of Aspergillus correlated with those dairies that had the poorest hygiene - this is perhaps not the most surprising of findings but it is the first to demonstrate the potential severity of consequence for lack of good hygiene amongst workers, poor work practices, equipment that had been inadequately cleaned and the surrounding environment where milking is carried out.