The shelf life of pasteurized dairy products depends partly on the concentration of Bacillus cereus spores in raw milk. Based on a translation of contamination pathways into chains of unit-operations, 2 simulation models were developed to quantitatively identify factors that have the greatest effect on the spore concentration in milk. In addition, the models can be used to determine the reduction in concentration that could be achieved via measures at the farm level. One model predicts the concentration when soil is the source of spores, most relevant during grazing of cows. The other model predicts the concentration when feed is the main source of spores, most relevant during housing of cows. It was estimated that when teats are contaminated with soil, 33% of the farm tank milk (FTM) contains more than 3 log(10) spores/L of milk. When feed is the main source, this is only 2%. Based on the predicted spore concentrations in FTM, we calculated that the average spore concentration in raw milk stored at the dairy processor during the grazing period is 3.5 log(10) spores/L of milk and during the housing period is 2.1 log(10) spores/L. It was estimated that during the grazing period a 99% reduction could be achieved if all farms minimize the soil contamination of teats and teat cleaning is optimized. During housing, reduction of the concentration by 60% should be feasible by ensuring spore concentrations in feed below 3 log(10) spores/g and a pH of the ration offered to the cows below 5. Implementation of these measures at the farm level ensures that the concentration of B. cereus spores in raw milk never exceeds 3 log(10) spores/L.
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