Application of thermostable a-Amylase from Thermomyces lanuginosus ATCC 58157 to nutritionally enhance starch based food
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In Sub-Saharan Africa there is an urgent need to sustain and improve the quality of its food resources. Poverty eradication features high on the agenda of a number of world health organisations, while the number of underweight children in Africa continues to increase (Pellet, 1996). Providing nutritionally enhanced foods to the poor will help towards achieving this objective. Protein-energy malnutrition has been identified as one of the most important problems facing Africa, with maize as the staple diet (Nkama et al., 1995). However, a combination of several factors limits availability and the nutritional quality of maize. During starvation, energy and protein intakes decrease by 20-30%, with most of the children in Africa having an average protein intake of only 20 g per day (Igbedioh, 1996). Energy availability also affects protein utilization because of interrelationships of protein and energy metabolism (Elwyn, 1993). The diets of inhabitants in developing regions depend mainly on cereals (maize) for both protein and dietary energy which lacks indispensable amino acids, minerals, vitamins and carbohydrates. In light of these growing concerns an attempt was made to devise a scientific strategy to combat the nutritional shortfalls of maize meal. A multidisciplinary and concerted approach was followed within this project aimed at designing an improved thermostable amylase and applying the enzyme to nutritionally enhance maize meal. It was envisaged that the manipulation of maize meal, by the application of enzyme technology will improve the nutritional status of this staple food. The consequences is that an alternate solution for the eradication of an ailing, poverty stricken and malnourished African population is achievable. It is possible that the boundaries defining the limits of life will extend to even greater extremes through the application of novel technologies.