Congratulations to Dr. Tawanda Muzhingi, a CIP regional food scientist and nutritional biochemist based in Nairobi, Kenya, for being one of the three winners of the 2019 Friedman School Alumni Association Award. Dr. Tawanda received the Rising Star Award. The award is a recognition of Dr. Tawanda’s work in leading the successful commercialization of orange flesh sweet potato puree for bakery application in East Africa resulting in a new market for smallholder farmers, employment opportunities in rural areas, and a healthier bread alternative.
What is main goal of promoting the use of OFSP purée by bakeries?
By promoting products made from OFSP that can be consumed year-round, also in the cities, CIP can strengthen the campaign against VAD while providing more stable incomes for farmers, and the vine growers who provide them with planting material. Many options have been tried, and the sweetpotato puree appears to be economical and versatile as an ingredient for many food products. Indeed, it can replace between 20 and 45% of the wheat flour in baked products such as bread and biscuits.
What are the future plans in terms of CIP promoting the use of puree?
CIP in collaboration with a North Carolina based technology company SinnovaTek and North Carolina State University’s Food, Nutrition and Bioprocessing Department are exploring launching continuous flow microwave heating system to produce a unique, natural, value-added, shelf-stable puree product, which was currently unavailable in the African market with a yet to be name commercial company in Kenya. The microwave technology retains over 94% of the beta carotene in the raw sweetpotato samples after processing the puree to a minimum sterilization temperature. The aseptic process provides a product with an ambient shelf life of at least 24 months and possibly up to 3 years.
The possible applications of this shelf-stable preservative free sweetpotato puree product include as an ideal side dish for meals, functional food that can replace added sugars in baked goods and snacks, baby foods, and nutraceutical beverage formulations. This is extremely valuable for institutions such as schools, hospitals, prisons, the military, food assistance programs, and export markets because it eliminates the need for cold transportation and storage, and minimizes the costs associated with thawing, opening, and removing product from rigid containers.