Eden Foundation

Eden Foundation

Founded 1985 in Sweden
Active in Tanout, Niger, since 1987

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Fermented food - safer to eat

Since the beginning of Eden Foundation, the research regarding the nutritional value of different foods has been the responsibility of Peter Sahlin at the Lund University in Sweden. He has now received a grant from SAREC (the Swedish Agency for Research Co-operation with Developing Countries) to do research on fermentation as a method of food processing, specifically regarding aspects of nutrition, food safety and food security.

Fermented food is food that is prepared involving a step where micro-organisms (or enzymes) alter the properties of the food, e.g., yoghurt or bread. The purpose of fermenting food is often to get a better taste or texture, but one important reason is that it keeps better when fermented. All the different types of cultured milk have evolved from the fact that fresh milk rapidly deteriorates, and a controlled fermentation with lactic acid bacteria (LAB) gives the food a longer shelf life.

There is a growing attention from the research community on the fermentation of cereal products. Examples are koko (ogi of Nigeria, akasa of Ghana), a sour cereal porridge, and tuo zaafi, a thick sorghum or millet porridge which is a staple food in African savanna areas. New products are also being developed in this area.

Research has shown that fermentation can inhibit pathogenic bacteria that otherwise could cause e.g., diarrhoea (one out of ten children in developing countries dies due to dehydration caused by diarrhoea). Toxins and anti-nutritive factors can also be reduced, and the nutritive value can be ameliorated.

The research of Peter Sahlin in Lund is aimed at developing recommendations for the use of fermentation as a household technique, in collaboration with the Food Safety Unit of WHO in Geneva, which has defined "the study of the safety of fermentation as a technique for preparation/storage of food, including infant food" as a needed research area.

Read the final thesis here:
Fermentation as a Method of Food Processing (PDF)

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