Quality and storage stability of provitamin A biofortified amahewu, a non-alcoholic cereal beverage
Awobusuyi, Temitope Deborah
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Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) is a major health problem in sub-Saharan Africa where maize is a staple food. Amahewu, a fermented non-alcoholic,maize-based beverage is a popular drink in southern Africa.The aim of this study is to produce a provitamin A enriched and acceptable amahewu, using provitamin A biofortified maize which can be used to alleviate VAD. The optimal processing parameters for the production of amahewu using provitamin A-biofortified maize were determined. Amahewu samples were prepared with reference to a traditional method by boiling a mixture of maize meal and water (rato:1:7) at 90ᴼC, with occasional stirring, for 15 minutes. The resulting porridge was left to cool to approximately 40ᴼC, before inoculation and fermentation at 37oC. Processing parameters investigated were inoculum types (wheat bran (WB), maize malt (MM) and Lactobacillus mixed starter culture) and inoculum concentration (0.5,1 and 2% (w/w)) and varieties of provitamin A maize (PVAH 62 and PVAH 19). Wheat flour (at 2%) was used as reference inoculum to conform to the traditional practice. White maize amahewu samples processed in the same way as those of provitamin A-biofortified maize were used as references. Provitamin A amahewu samples were produced using the optimized processing parameters and then analysed for nutrient composition, including carotenoids, protein, ash, amino acids, mineral profile and invitro protein digestibility. The consumer acceptability of amahewu samples was evaluated using regular consumers of amahewu (n= 54), who rated the acceptability of the samples on a 9-point hedonic scale (1:disliked extremely, 9:liked extremely). The storage stability of the provitamin A biofortified amahewu samples was assessed by subjecting the samples to different storage conditions: 4ᴼC, 25ᴼC and 37ᴼC. The microbiological quality of the stored samples was monitored by taking samples every day for a period of five days to analyse for the presence of aerobic and anaerobic bacterial spore formers, E.coli and moulds. The provitamin A maize variety did not influence pH and Total titratable acidity (TTA) of amahewu samples during fermentation. As expected, there was a substantial drop in pH with fermentation time. After 24 hours, all the samples of amahewu, including those made with white maize, prepared using malted maize and wheat bran inocula reached a pH of 3.3-3.8 and TTA of 0.3-0.6, which were within acceptable range for amahewu. The addition of a starter culture substantially reduced fermentation time, from 24 to six hours. The inoculum of WB and MM, respectively, at a concentration of 0.5%, with or without starter culture (5%), were found to be suitable for the production of amahewu using provitamin A biofortified maize. The total provitamin A content of amahewu samples, produced using optimised parameters (i.e one variety of provitamin A biofortified maize, 0.5% MM, WB with or without starter culture), ranged from 3.3-3.8 μg/g (DW). The percentage retention of total provitamin A ranged from 79%- 90% (DW). The lowest percentage retention was observed in products fermented with the addition of starter culture. The gross energy of the amahewu samples was approx. 20 MJ/kg. There was a slight increase in the lysine content of amahewu after fermentation. The protein digestibility (approx. 91%) of amahewu samples was slightly higher than that of raw provitamin A maize (86%). Amahewu processed using starter cultures had a slightly higher iron content than those processed without a starter culture. Consumer acceptability data showed that amahewu samples made with provitamin A biofortified maize were slightly more acceptable (average rating for overall acceptability was 7.0 ± 1.2), compared to those made with white maize (average rating for overall acceptability was 6.4 ± 0.8). Principal component analysis (PCA) of Amahewu sensory data showed that 71% of variation was due to maize types and 18% of variation may be due to the inoculum used during fermentation. The use of a starter culture improves the taste and aroma acceptability of amahewu. Segmentation of consumers based on overall linking for amahewu revealed three clusters, named A, B and C. Cluster A consisted of most consumers (43%), who liked amahewu moderately. About 60% of these consumers were females. Cluster B consisted of most of the consumers (31%) who were undecided about their liking for the product. Approximately 52% of the consumers in this cluster were female. Cluster C consisted of consumers (26%) who liked amahewu very much. Sixty-four percent (64%) of these consumers were female. It appeared that gender may have some influence on overall liking for amahewu, as cluster B, consisting of undecided consumers, had more male consumers compared to clusters A and C. Age did not seem to be significantly associated with the liking of amahewu. Provitamin A biofortified amahewu samples stored under refrigerated conditions (4ᴼC) had better microbiological quality compared to those stored at 25ᴼC and 37ᴼC. Refrigeration effectively maintains the microbiological quality of amahewu for about three of days. Provitamin A biofortified maize can be used to produce β-carotene enriched amahewu that is acceptable to consumers following the processing method that is traditionally employed for white amahewu at both domestic and commercial level. Provitamin A biofortified amahewu has the potential to make a significant contribution towards alleviating VAD among rural communities, who are the most vulnerable to VAD.