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Since the Covid-19 pandemic struck, headlines have been full of fluids. There are droplets sprayed when we talk or cough, nasal secretions swabbed for testing, and blood checked for antibodies. But some scientists have focused on a different bodily product: breast milk.
Unlike the others, milk is a fluid made for sharing. That has raised urgent questions about its safety during the crisis, for mothers feeding babies as well as for milk banks handling donations. When an advisory panel for Australian Red Cross Lifeblood, which manages milk banking as well as blood donation, met in March, “there was a lot that was still unknown about Covid-19,” Laura Klein, a research fellow with the organization, wrote via email. “We didn’t know then if the virus could be transmitted through breast milk,” as some other viruses, including HIV and cytomegalovirus, can.
If the virus lurked in breast milk, should infected mothers give
A research project headed by the Technical University of Denmark, DTU, has come up with the formula for a freeze-dried starter culture that African camel milk farmers can use to make safe, fermented milk products.
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The majority of the world’s camels are located in East Africa, where they are a common dairy animal. Camel milk constitutes upwards of 9% of the total milk production of Africa. The farmers, who milk the animals, sell much of the milk as a fermented product in local markets or roadside stalls.
The fermentation process occurs spontaneously as the farmers have no cooling facilities. Given that the level of hygiene is often poor, the milk often also contains disease-causing microorganisms such as E.coli and salmonella, which have the opportunity to multiply in the lukewarm milk.
“New” bacteria ferment the milk and increase safety
In a research project, researchers from the National Food Institute, Technical University