Nomadic traditions of Asia Minor and North Africa and European research meet to enhance the productions of a superfoods still far from the spotlight, camel milk. Thanks to project Camel Milk, in which Italy participates through our FARE team (Food and Agriculture Requirements). As part of the broader program of initiatives coordinated by PRIMA, The Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area. An alliance between universities and research centers, public bodies and private operators that aspires to unite the peoples of the Mediterranean by developing synergies aimed at promoting the improvement of living conditions and economic growth. Under the banner of socio-environmental sustainability, in a long-term perspective.
Camel milk. Rural traditions and production needs
Camel milk it has an essential role in the diet of some populations in North Africa and Asia Minor (starting from the Anatolian peninsula), in the context of millenary traditions. The first reason, of necessity virtue, is linked to the security of food supply (cd food safety) offered by a resilient mammal, capable of withstanding extreme climatic conditions. Local communities have always appreciated the virtues of this food and of the products derived from it, without however being able to produce products suitable for their exploitation on a larger scale.
Raw material it still comes, mainly, from nomadic populations and from small farms. The milk is generally consumed fresh, or transformed into dairy products also intended for local consumption. The development of the related supply chains requires the development of good farming practices and the development of production technologies, with the support of veterinarians and food technologists. In view of the production of pasteurized and long-life (UHT) milks, as well as dairy products and cheeses that comply with the highest food safety standards, in various areas of the Mediterranean.
Camel milk, nutritional and health-related properties
From a nutritional point of view, camel milk contains vitamins C, B3, B5 (pantothenic acid), B9 (folic acid), B12 in quantities higher than both human and cow's milk. The latter is compared with the levels of thiamine (B1), pyridoxine (B6) and vitamin E. camel milk it is also distinguished by the high concentration of antimicrobial factors with bactericidal and fungicidal action (immunoglobulins and lactoferrin, lysozyme).
The scientific community international also showed the role of camel's milk in the treatment of diabetes, by virtue of its ability to:
- reduce blood sugar levels, thanks to the high concentration of insulin and the ability of its insulin-like proteins to overcome acid degradation in the stomach,
- limit the complications of diabetes, thanks to the reduction of blood cholesterol levels, the improvement of kidney and liver function, the reduction of oxidative stress, the facilitation of wound healing. (1)
The greater affinity of the camel milk with mother's milk (LM), compared to cow's milk (LV), it also suggests a better digestibility and a lower allergenicity to milk proteins in predisposed subjects. In fact, camel milk is:
- like LM, devoid of β-lactoglobulin. One of the main allergens involved in cow's milk protein allergy (APLV), in which it makes up 50% of total whey proteins,
- characterized by the presence of α-lactalbumin, which is its main serum protein. (2)
Studies on composition and the therapeutic potential therefore suggests how the camel milk it could be used successfully in human medicine to treat various diseases. Not only diabetes mellitus (DM) types 1 and 2 and milk allergy (APLV) but also autism, hepatic steatosis, Crohn's disease and diarrhea.
FIRST, the Mediterranean research and innovation program
PRIMA (Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area) is a long-term partnership program on research and innovation. (3) 19 countries participate, with the financial contribution of the European Commission, in compliance with the principles of co-ownership, mutual interest and sharing of benefits. (4) With the aim of strengthening the cooperation between researchers and innovators, public and private, to face the growing social, economic and environmental challenges.
The shared strategy aspires to mitigate the most serious problems currently encountered in the areas of nutrition, health and wellness. Through the development of solutions that can improve the living conditions of populations, especially in low-medium income countries (LMIC, Low-Medium Income Countries) where social inequalities are more pronounced. Also encouraging administrations and communities, businesses and citizens to concretely adopt the tools developed. Among other things, with a view to reducing migratory pressure.
'Research is needed to develop new products and processes to increase the quality of Mediterranean foods by combining improvement of raw material composition with better use of innovative and soft production and processing technologies. The result will be a better nutritional quality of food products, as well as stable (micro) nutrient-dense ingredients, bioactive extracts, functional ingredients and new products' (BEFORE, Annual Work Plan 2018).
In line with the Goals of Sustainable Development (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) defined by the UN General Assembly in Agenda 2030, the PRIMA program focuses on research and development of innovative and sustainable solutions in agriculture, management of water resources in arid and semi-arid areas, food supply chains able to guarantee rights universal humans of access to food sure and nutritious as well drinking water and sanitary toilets.
Camel Milk, the research project
The project Camel Milk was born with the aim of promoting the production, processing and consumption of camel milk and derived products in the Mediterranean basin, providing small owners and small and medium-sized enterprises active in the sector with the necessary tools to ensure an increase in competitiveness , economic growth and job creation on both sides of the Mediterranean.
Eight countries participate to the project - Spain, Algeria, Germany, Croatia, France, Morocco, Turkey and Italy - which is coordinated by the Institute of Agri-food Research and Technology (IRTA, ES). The FARE division (Food and Agriculture Requirements) of our Wiise Srl benefit company, the only Italian partner of the project, will integrate R&D with all legal, technical-regulatory, public relations and lobbying in the agri-food sector.
The specific objectives of this research phase are essentially three:
- improve camel milk production systems in Algeria and Turkey, bringing them closer to European standards of safety and quality in the organization of processes. In order to establish the basis for export to the EU in the short term,
- adapt to camel milk the technologies and production processes of fermented dairy products and various types of cheeses, now used on other pasteurized milks in Spain, France, Turkey and Algeria,
- define models of business and effective market strategies, for the benefit of each actor in the supply chain involved 'from camel to mug'.
At the regulatory level, proof of consumption of dairy-based products in Europe will be sought camel milk - in a significant and verifiable quantity - prior to 15.5.97. (5). In the absence of evidence to this effect, the authorization process for the placing on the market of new foods will be activated. Using the simplified procedure provided for by reg. EU 2015/2283 for traditional products from non-EU countries. In the following phases, the opportunities to present dossiers for the authorization of specific ones will be considered health claim.
Footnotes to the story
(1) Roberto Miniero, Giuseppe Antonio Mazza, Ali Mohamed Mahdi et al. (2014). 'Composition and therapeutic use of camel milk'. Large Animal Review 2014; 20: 125-132 125
Roberto Miniero et al. (2016). 'Camel milk: nutritional properties and therapeutic perspectives'. Journal of Pediatric Immunology and Allergology, 2016; 3: 46-50
Roberto Miniero et al. (2018). 'Can camel milk supplement insulin treatment in patients with diabetes?'Italian Journal of Diabetology and Metabolism 2018; 38: 3-11
(2) Idem cs
(3) See the Italian Secretariat of Prima, http://www.primaitaly.it
(4) The PRIMA initiative was initiated by 11 EU Member States (Croatia, Cyprus, France, Italy, Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain) and 8 third countries. Of these, 3 - Israel, Turkey and Tunisia - are already associated with the Horizon 2020 program. The others are Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Jordan
(5) See reg. CE 258/97, repealed by the subsequent reg. EU 2015/2283, on the subject of 'novel food'