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Relationships between the conditions of milk production and the contents of nutritional constituents in cheese : study under real conditions of production

INRA Prod. Anim., 19(1), 15-28.


1 INRA, Unité de Recherches sur les Herbivores, F-63122 Saint-Genès Champanelle
2 ITFF, 419 route des Champs Laitiers, BP 30, F-74801 La Roche sur Foron
3 Pôle Fromager AOC Massif Central, 21 rue du Château Saint-Etienne, F-15000 Aurillac
4 GIS Alpes du Nord, 11 rue Métropole, F-73000 Chambéry
5 ENITAC, Marmilhat, F-63370 Lempdes
6 INRA, Unité Maladies Métaboliques et Micronutriments, F-63122 Saint-Genès Champanelle

The relationships between the conditions of milk production and the contents of components of nutritional interest in cow’s or goat’s milk farmhouse cheeses have been studied under real conditions of production in four cheese chains (Abondance, Tomme de Savoie, Salers/Cantal and Rocamadour). In total, 432 cheeses, including 306 cow’s milk ones and 126 goat’s milk ones, produced throughout the year by 74 farmhouse producers, were analysed. First, the respective effects of the conditions of milk production and the cheese-making process on the compositional variability in cheese were quantified. Subsequently, the relationships between the cheese composition and the conditions of milk production, beforehand identified by means of surveys, were studied. Farmhouse cheese was characterized by a great compositional variability which mainly depended on the cheese-making process for vitamin B9 and minerals and on the conditions of milk production for fatty acids (FA), vitamins A and E and carotenoids. The animal species explained a great part of the variability in some FA and β-carotene contents in cheese. The contents of fat-soluble micronutrients and the antioxidant capacity in cheese mainly depended on the nature of the fodder ration (pasture vs. preserved forages) whatever the animal species. The pasture-based rations were associated with higher levels of carotenoids, vitamins A and E and antioxidant capacity in cheese. On the other hand, the influencing factors of the FA profile in cheese differed in this study between cows and goats. As regards cow’s milk cheeses, it mainly depended on the nature of the fodder ration (pasture vs preserved forages). Cheeses associated with pasture were richer in long length saturated and unsaturated FA (≥ C18) and poorer in short and medium length saturated FA (C6:0 à C16:0). The FA profile of goat’s milk cheese mainly depended on the percentage of fat from the concentrates in the ration, the stage of lactation of animals and to a lesser extent the presence or not of linseed in the concentrates. This cheese was richer in long length FA and poorer in short and medium length saturated FA when the percentage of fat from the concentrates was higher, the concentrates contained linseed and the animals were in early lactation. In conclusion, this work allowed to collect representative and detailed data on the nutritional characteristics of various cheese varieties and to hierarchy the main production factors responsible for the compositional variability in cheese.

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