Xerophiles and other fungi associated with cereal baby foods locally produced in Uganda
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Fifty samples from five baby food products mainly made of cereal flour(s) were analyzed. The moisture contents of these products were between 11.14% and 11.9%, a level below 14.0%, the recommended level for safe storage of cereal grains and their products. The mycological analysis was carried out using the dilution plate method and two isolation media (DG18 for isolation of xerophilic fungi and DRBC for fungi in general). A total of 80 species related to 37 genera in addition to some unidentified fungal and yeast species were recorded on both media from the five products. The products were contaminated abundantly by xerophilic fungi which were occurring in 88% of food samples and accounting for 18.1% of the total CFU as recorded on DG18. The highest contamination level by xerophiles was registered in Mwebaza rice porridge (a component of rice flour) and the lowest in Mukuza (a product of maize, soyabean and sorghum flours). 11 xerophilic species were recorded of which Aspergillus and Eurotium (4 species each) were the predominant giving rise to 9.1% and 8.9% of the total CFU, with A. wentii, A. candidus, E. cristatum and E. repens were the most contaminating species. Of the fungi recorded other than xerophiles, species of Aspergillus (particularly A. flavus followed by A. niger), Penicillium (P. citrinum, P. oxalicum), Fusarium (F. solani, F. tricinctum), Cladosporium (C. sphaerospermum) and yeasts were the most predominant. Contamination of such foods is a matter of health hazard as these foods are for babies. So, the use of fresh, well-dried and uncontaminated flours for production of such foods is recommended.
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