Safety of Small - Scale Food Fermentations in Developing Countries
Fermented foods are animal or plant tissues subjected to the action of microorganisms or enzymes to give desirable biochemical changes and significant modification of food quality. Small-scale traditional fermented foods are common in developing countries especially in Africa. Examples include “Ogi” (fermented maize, sorghum or millet); “Kenkey” (fermented sorghummaize, sorghum or millet); “Banku” (fermented maize or mixture of maize and cassava); “Kunuzaki” (fermented millet) and “Injera” (fermented sorgum flour). Fermentation enhances the nutrient content of foods through biosynthesis of vitamins, essential amino acids and proteins, by improving the protein and fibre digestibility, by enhancing micronutrient bioavailability and by degrading antinutritional factors. Small –scale fermentation processes enhance food safety by reducing toxic compounds such as aflatoxins and cyanogens and producing antimicrobial factors such as lactic acid, bacteriocins, carbondioxide, hydrogen peroxide and ethanol. For example, Lactobacillus isolates from “ogi” are able to produce bacteriocin which is active against common food –borne pathogens including Salmonella which might contaminate the fermented food. Bacteriocin has also been known to improve the shelf life of ‘jellied’ “ogi”, extending it by 10 days. The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) system, which has made it possible to assure the microbiological safety of “ soy-ogi” and also produce “soy-ogi” of good consistent organoleptic quality has been implemented by Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIRO), Nigeria. The safety of fermented in developing countries can be improved upon greatly by using quality raw materials, using unique starter cultures that have the ability to detoxify, maintaining proper hygienic standards in the processing environment and using proper packaging.