Knowledge transferability as the epicentre of work at the Leartiker Dairy Centre

The motto of the Leartiker Dairy Centre is a mantra for the team: “Our milk, our producers, our health“. It is short, but with a wide range of research options and therefore a broad involvement of the R&D&i projects we have been working on for more than 15 years.

One of the main objectives of the Dairy Centre is to generate knowledge that in the short, medium or long term has an applicability in the dairy sector to help them in the development of new products, in the improvement of production effectiveness, in the assurance of quality and food safety and in the improvement of the sector’s potential. To achieve this objective, it is clear to us that all our knowledge must be transferred to the sector, so dissemination is a key point in each of our projects.

Clear examples of R&D&i projects whose objectives arose from problems and/or needs of the sector and whose ultimate aim is to transfer their results to solve them are ONDTEK, GAZTANOLA and EZTAPHTOX.

ONDTEK is an internal project of the Leartiker Dairy Center that seeks excellence in the quality of ripened cheeses. Its main objective is to carry out a planned study to establish physicochemical reference parameters that will serve to validate the production process of cured cheese. In this way, the cheese dairies will have established parameters that will enable them to predict the evolution of their cheeses during the maturing period and, if necessary, make the necessary corrections to ensure that the cheese reaches the market with optimum quality. The project, which is currently in the implementation phase, will have a final duration of 15 months and is designed by and for the cheese-making sector that produces ripened cheese.

On the other hand, there is the GAZTANOLA project, which arose from the need for the Basque cheese sector to request an exemption from the Health Authorities for the use of wooden shelves in ripening processes. Thus, its main objective is to carry out research activities to obtain scientific evidence that certifies that the use of this tool in cheese ripening is safe from the point of view of food safety and that it provides a sensory benefit, giving blue and pressed paste cheeses their typicality and uniqueness. This project will be carried out over 15 months, ending in December 2024, and given the interest of the subject, two cheese factories, Esnekigileen Euskal Elkartek (EEE), HAZI Fundazioa and Elika Fundazioa, are collaborating in the project.

Another project that arises with the aim of transferring knowledge is EZTAPHTOX. This is a more fundamental research project but with a clear projection to the needs of the dairy sector in terms of increasing knowledge about the capacity of Staphylococcus aureus to appear, develop and generate enterotoxins in milk and cheese made from raw milk. This one-year initiative began in December 2023 and its main objective is to enhance the value of the food chain in the Basque Country by favouring the production, marketing and consumption of safe quality food. Its implementation is being carried out with the collaboration of the UPV/EHU’s Lactiker and Mikroiker research groups and the Dairy Center – Leartiker. In addition, Artzai Gazta and Elika Fundazioa are closely monitoring the results.

The three initiatives are financed by the Basque Government’s “Berriker 2023” call for R&D&i grants: GAZTANOLA and EZTAPHTOX in the line of grants for R&D projects for knowledge generation and dissemination for the agricultural sector by agents of the Basque Science, Technology and Innovation Network; and ONDTEK, in the line of knowledge generation. The commitment to transparency, dissemination and transferability of results by the Leartiker Dairy Centre is clear and examples of this are: the updated information offered by our team in the individualised services to the sector, the material of the completed projects themselves that is shared with all those entities collaborating in the projects, but also the updated information that we disseminate through our newsletters and that we post on our website.

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