Effects of different processing conditions on growth of Aspergillus flavus in Bambara flour

By Aubrey Takundwa

African researchers have sought out to investigate the growth of toxigenic strains of Aspergillus flavus and its ability to develop aflatoxins in Bambara groundnut flour.

The contamination of several products of plant origin with fungal agents and the eventual accumulation of mycotoxins has been a concern in the food industry for some time now. There has been several reports of fungal and mycotoxin presence in foods like maize, peanuts, pistachios, figs to name just a few. One such food product that is susceptible to fungal contamination is Bambara groundnut, a protein rich legume in the Southern parts of Africa that is used in various food applications. Incidences of A. flavus and aflatoxin growth have been associated with high temperatures and relatively high humid conditions in tropical regions. It is upon this premise that this study sought to establish the effects of different processing methods, milling, roasting and fermenting, on A. flavus and aflatoxin growth in Bambara groundnut flour and Bambara-Maize composite flour.

The study showed that roasting and fermentation could significantly decrease the growth of A. flavus in Bambara groundnut flour during storage. It further singled out how the lowering of pH through fermentation provides a more potent mitigation measure when compared to the other processing conditions studied. The study exhibits the potential of processing methods to effectively deal with fungal and mycotoxin growth in foods.

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Olagunju, O. and Ijabadeniyi, O., 2020. Behaviour of Aspergillus flavus in Bambara groundnut (Vigna subterranea (L.) Verdc) as affected by milling, fermentation or roasting during storage. International Journal of Food Microbiology, p.108940