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Persistent Organic Pollutants and Fatty Acid Profile in a Typical Cheese from Extensive Farms: First Assessment of Human Exposure by Dietary Intake

  • Autori: Giosue C.; D'Agostino F.; Maniaci G.; Avellone G.; Sciortino M.; De Caro V.; Bonanno A.; Ponte M.; Alabiso M.; Di Grigoli A.
  • Anno di pubblicazione: 2022
  • Tipologia: Articolo in rivista
  • OA Link:


Dairy products represent an important source of beneficial substances for humans. At the same time, they can expose the consumers to environmental contaminants ingested by animals through their diet, influencing their health negatively. This experiment aims to evaluate the risk and benefits related to the consumption of typical stretched cheeses, considering their fatty acid (FA) profile and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) content. Six representative farms, two of them organic, raising Cinisara cattle were selected, considering the typical extensive management systems, based on feeding of natural pasture integrated with concentrate and hay depending on the availability of forage on pastures. A total of 18 cheeses produced in winter, spring and summer with bulk milk of each farm were sampled and analyzed. The chemical composition of cheeses was influenced by farm management, and the FA profile mainly by the season. In particular, cheeses made in spring showed a healthier FA profile with the content of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), of omega3-PUFA and omega6/omega3 ratio pair to 7.29%, 1.44% and 1.32, respectively, while in winter 5.44%, 0.98% and 2.55, respectively, and in summer 4.77% 0.49% and 3.04, respectively. Due to high levels of feeding integration, cheese made in winter presented unhealthier characteristics compared to the cheeses made in spring and summer, showing high levels of saturated FA (66.2%, 64.2% and 65.5%, respectively), and large contents of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (57.07 ng/g fat, 36.25 ng/g fat and 10.22 ng/g fat, respectively) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (36.19 ng/g fat, 4.68 ng/g fat and 3.73 ng/g fat, respectively), mainly in those from non-organic farms. Levels of PCBs considered to be hazardous to human health were found in nine samples.