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Effect of drying and storage on the degradation of total carotenoids in orange-fleshed sweetpotato cultivars

Orange‐fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) can be used to tackle vitamin A deficiency, a major public health problem in most developing countries. In East Africa, common ways of using sweetpotato include drying and subsequent storage. The aim of the study was to investigate the impact of drying and storage on the total carotenoid retention (as an estimate of provitamin A retention) from OFSP.

Losses of total carotenoid during drying were generally low (15% or less). Total carotenoid retention in OFSP was not dependent on the type of dryer (solar or sun). Sweetpotato cultivar (Ejumula, Kakamega, SPK004/1, SPK004/1/1, SPK004/6 or SPK004/6/6) had a significant effect on retention in drying (P < 0.05). High percentage losses of total carotenoids were, however, correlated with high moisture content and high carotenoid content in fresh sweetpotato roots. After 4 months’ storage at room temperature in Uganda, losses of total carotenoid in dried sweetpotato chips were high (about 70%) and this was not dependent on the use of opaque or transparent packaging.

Losses of carotenoids during storage were considered to be more of a nutritional constraint to the utilisation of dried sweetpotato than losses occurring during drying. The relationship between characteristics of the cultivars and losses of carotenoids during drying should be taken into account in selection of cultivars for processing. 

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