University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006
Developments and Microbiological applications in African foods: Emphasis on Nigerian Wara cheese
Doctoral dissertation, September 2006.
African indigenous foods have received limited research. Most of these indigenous foods are fermented and they form part of the rich nutritional culture of many groups in African countries. The industrialization and commercialisation of these indigenous African fermented foods should be preceded by a thorough scientific knowledge of their processing which can be vital in the elimination of hunger and poverty. This study highlighted emerging developments and the microbiology of cereal-based and cassava-based food products that constitute a major part of the human diet in most African countries. In addition, investigations were also carried out on the coagulant of the Calotropis procera plant used in traditional production of Nigerian Wara cheese and on the effects of adding a nisin producing Lactococcus lactis strain originating from human milk to Nigerian Wara cheese.
Fermented cereal-based food such as ogi utilize popular African and readily available grains - maize, millet or sorghum as substrates and is popular as a weaning diet in infants. In this study, the bulkiness caused by starch gelatinization was solved by amylase treatments in the investigation on cooked and fermented oat bran porridge. A similar treatment could reduce the viscosity of any cereal porridge.
The properties of the Sodom apple leaves (Calotropis procera) extract in cheesemaking were studied. C. procera was affected by monovalent (K+ and Na+) and divalent (Mg2+ and Ca2+) cations during coagulation. The rennet strength of this coagulant was found to be 7 % compared to animal rennet at 35 °C. Increasing the incubation temperature to 70 °C increased the rennet strength 28-fold. The molecular weight of the partially purified protease was determined by SDS-PAGE and was confirmed by Zymography to be approximately 60 kilodaltons. The high proteolytic activity at 70 °C supported the suitability of the protease enzyme as a coagulant in future commercial production of Nigerian Wara cheese. It was also possible to extend the shelf life of Wara cheese by a nisin producing lactic acid bacteria Lactococcus lactis LAC309. The levels of nisin in both whey and curd fractions of Wara were investigated, results showed a 3 log reduction of toxicogenic Bacillus licheniformis spiked on Wara after 3 days.
These studies are the first in Finland to promote the advancement of scientific knowledge in African foods. Recognizing these indigenous food products and an efficient transfer of technology from the developed countries to industrialize them are necessary towards a successful realization of the United Nations Millenium Development Program.
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© University of Helsinki 2006
Last updated 21.08.2006