Advantages of traditional lactic acid bacteria fermentation of food in Africa
PK Chelule1, MP Mokoena2 and N Gqaleni3
Department of Public Health, University of Limpopo, MEDUNSACampus, Pretoria, South Africa. 2Department of Biotechnology & Food Technology, Durban University of Technology, Durban, South Africa. 3South African Research Chair: Indigenous Health Care Systems, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are a large group of closely related bacteria that have similar properties such as lactic acid production, which is anend product of the fermentation. LAB include Lactobacillus, Lactococus, Streptococcus and Leuconostoc species. LAB fermentation is a common way of preparing food traditionally in Africa. Some of the traditionally fermented foods in Africa include maize porridge, alcoholic beverages and dairy products. Some of the main reasons for the fermentation practice using LAB is to increase food palatabilityand improve the quality of food by increasing the availability of proteins and vitamins. Furthermore, LAB confer preservative and detoxifying effects on food as well. When used regularly, LAB fermented foods boost the immune system and strengthen the body in the fight against pathogenic bacterial infections. Thus, LAB fermentation is not only of a major economic importance, but it also promoteshuman health in Africa. Keywords: lactic acid bacteria; fermentation; proteins; vitamins; food quality; traditional.
Traditional fermentation is a form of food processing, where microbes, for example, lactic acid bacteria (LAB) are utilized. The bacteria use food as a substrate for their propagation. This is a form of food preservation technology, used from ancient times. Overthe years, it became part of the cultural and traditional norm among the indigenous communities in most developing countries, especially in Africa. The rural folk have come to prefer fermented over the unfermented foods because of their pleasant taste, texture and colour. This popularity has made fermented foods one of the main dietary components of the developing world [1-3]. Different types offood fermentations have been suggested and are classified based on the major products of the fermentation process. These include alcoholic fermentation, lactic acid (non-alcoholic) fermentation, acetic acid fermentation, alkaline fermentation and amino acid/peptide sauce fermentations [4-6]. Since lactic acid is the main byproduct of the fermentation process, the pH of the ferment is always lowerthan 5 (in the acid range)  . In this article, LAB fermentation will be the major subject of review. The types of foods processed using fermentation technology include beverages, dairy products, cereals and even meat products .
2. Types of foods fermented in Africa
Several types of foods are traditionally fermented and this contributes substantially to the daily diets of rural communities.These indigenous foods are locally prepared in small scale, in the village homes; and their quality depends on the skills of the household occupants, as inherited over the years. These include alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, which are mainly cereal-based [3, 9-10]. Moreover, alcoholic traditional maize-based beverages have been produced at home-level and at a commercial scale .Fermentation of fruits, vegetables and fish is also practiced in different countries of Africa , although fermented fish products are not very common. While some of the foods constitute the main form of daily diet, some are used as light meals, for example, in breakfast. 2.1 Cereal-based foods The authors have been focusing mainly on fermented maize meal research over the years, as maize is a staple...