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5 ways to make positive it can be harmless for eating

A normal west African menu is not comprehensive with no a fermented meals or drink. These are foodstuff that have been remodeled by natural procedures involving “friendly” microorganisms like microorganisms or yeast. The microorganisms split down the sugars and other substances in the meals, which adjustments the taste and texture, and in some cases even preserves the foodstuff.

Some examples of fermented foods from the location are these made from African locust beans, such as iru (Nigeria), dawadawa (Ghana), netetu (Senegal) and afitin (Benin). Other goods involve okpehe (Nigeria), soydawadawa (Ghana), ogiri (east Nigeria), and Burkina Faso’s bikalga and soumbala.

Fermented foodstuff are abundant in protein, nutritional fibre, and important minerals these as iron, calcium, and potassium. Whilst lots of of these meals are used as condiments, they also provide as minimal-cost meat substitutes thanks to their superior protein written content and taste.

The alkalinity of these fermented foods will help preserve them, for the reason that microorganisms (which induce foods to spoil) do not expand so very easily in alkaline substances.

Nevertheless, there are security worries with some of these meals. Dangers can crop up in the way they are organized and the quality of the fermentation approach.

As a microbiologist, I have analyzed west African alkaline fermented meals and highlighted some security challenges they present. I have also suggested methods to make these meals safer.

Foods protection challenges

Iru (African locust beans) and other legume-based products and solutions present vital amino acids and are a loaded supply of protein and fibre. Dawadawa has antioxidants that assistance defend cells from oxidative problems (mobile hurt brought about by strain).

But a single basic safety problem is the contamination possibility from mycotoxins and microbes associated to lousy cleanliness. Mycotoxins are harmful substances generated by specified moulds that can contaminate crops for the duration of growth, harvest, storage or processing.

Mycotoxins are capable of producing diseases or even loss of life in people and other animals. The adverse well being results of mycotoxins selection from acute poisoning to extensive-phrase consequences these types of as immune deficiency and cancer. Major publicity to aflatoxin, a form of mycotoxin, causes liver harm, jaundice, haemorrhage and oedema. Decreased exposure to aflatoxin over a lengthy time may well lead to immunosuppression and most cancers.

Unregulated traditional tactics, which might include unhygienic utensils and managing, can pose a menace to food stuff protection by introducing micro organism that can survive alkaline circumstances.

Study extra:
How does foods get contaminated? The unsafe routines that get rid of a lot more than 400,000 persons a 12 months

Also, fermented meals solutions frequently use salt as a preservative. Consuming much too considerably salt could adversely have an impact on wellbeing and worsen problems like cardiovascular ailments and stroke.

So, to minimise the basic safety dangers of fermented food items, it is essential to lessen the total of salt and to retailer foodstuff adequately. Examine grains and seeds, and discard any that appear mouldy, discoloured, or shrivelled. Keep away from harm to grains prior to and during drying, and in storage.

Foodstuff security demands action and cooperation in five areas: agriculture, foods technological innovation, diet, microbiology, and restrictions.

5 approaches to safer fermented foodstuff


The good quality and security of fermented meals lies in the high-quality of the “substrate” it is produced from, this sort of as legumes. Commencing a fermentation approach with reduced excellent substrates makes a substantial threat of introducing possibly pathogenic bacteria and fungi, or contaminants produced by them. Seeds and other agricultural develop made use of will have to be of superior quality and qualified secure for human usage.

Meals technologies

Risk-free alkaline fermentation calls for careful regulate of manufacturing disorders. Inadequate fermentation time and sub-exceptional temperature may perhaps not deliver the enzymes that kill pathogens and prevent poisons.


Usually, extremely minor investigation has been done on the nutritional composition of fermented merchandise. There is a will need for additional data on this. Research need to examine what influences the dietary material of the merchandise, this kind of as soil attributes, weather and the condition of maturity at harvest. Info ought to be gathered and analysed during the procedure, from the farm to processing and use levels. A strong evaluate of nutrient composition would help to formulate suggestions on each day intakes.


The basic safety of the certain strains of organisms applied in fermentation demands extra investigation. Molecular and genomics applications could be utilized to identify the enzyme making species and strains in these fermented food items.


Food items polices, guidelines and checking are desired in west African international locations to triumph over regional worries. Amongst several interventions, foodstuff handlers ought to be educated by foods basic safety bodies on critical microbiology, hygiene and sanitation as it problems their merchandise. Monitoring of compliance during output, packaging and storage in the sector is vital.

The culinary traditions of west Africa present a treasure trove of flavours and experiences. Alkaline fermented foods, with their exclusive tastes, textures and aromas, also present opportunity health gains. With large-top quality substrates, correct starter cultures, the ideal hygiene techniques, optimum pH and temperature in creation, and correct storage and packaging, shoppers can delight in the region’s fermented delicacies with self-confidence.