Technologically relevant Bacillus species and microbial safety of West African traditional alkaline fermented seed condiments

Owusu-Kwarteng, James, Parkouda, Charles, Adewumi, Gbenga Adedeji, Ouoba, Irene and Jespersen, Lene (2020) Technologically relevant Bacillus species and microbial safety of West African traditional alkaline fermented seed condiments. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 62 (4). pp. 871-888. ISSN 1549-7852


Fermented food condiments serve as a major source of nutrients to many homes in West Africa, especially among the rural poor who use these condiments as a cheap source of protein substitute for milk and other animal protein sources. Traditional fermented West African condiments are produced by spontaneous fermentation of legumes and protein-rich seeds of both cultivated and wild plant species. These fermented condiments are culturally accepted and widely produced in the West African sub-region, and rely on indigenous microbiota responsible for taste, texture, aroma development and the overall unique product characteristics. Detailed understanding of fermentation microbiota and their unique technological and functional properties are fundamental in developing products with enhanced quality and safety, as well as development of specific locally adapted starter cultures. Technologically relevant Bacillus spp., mainly Bacillus subtilis, are the predominant fermentative bacteria responsible for the natural fermentation of condiments across West Africa. Other species of Bacillus including B. amyloliquefaciens, B. licheniformis, B. pumilus, B. megaterium, B. sphaericus, B. cereus, B. badius and B. fusiformis are also frequently involved in the fermentation process. These bacterial species are responsible for flavour development, bio-conversion of complex food molecules, and production of antimicrobial compounds that impact shelf-life and safety, and in some instances, may confer host-beneficial health effects beyond basic nutrition. First, this review provides currently available information on the technologically relevant Bacillus species isolated from fermented food condiments in nine (9) West African countries. In addition, perspectives on harnessing the potentials of the technologically beneficial bacterial strains in fermented condiments in West Africa for enhanced food safety, quality and overall food security is presented.

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