Micronutrient deficiencies in the diet substantially contribute to the burden of disease in sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is partly caused by consumption of cereal-based foods that have largely lost their nutritional quality due to processing practices, typically providing only a small proportion of the daily requirements for most vitamins and minerals. However, in one of the major rice producing areas in Tanzania, a local thermally processed rice-based food product known as Pepeta is widely consumed, which has nutritional benefits because of its sole ingredient – the immature rice grains. Immature grains contain high amounts of nutrients, including micronutrients such as B vitamins and specific minerals. Also, the applied thermal processing significant reduces losses of water soluble constituents such as B vitamins, sugars and most minerals. However, accurate information on the Pepeta processing factors that affect its sensory and nutritional quality is scanty. Such information is needed as a baseline for developing suitable and innovative processing technologies for improved nutritional and enhanced economic values.
The project aim at optimising the bioavailability of nutrients and sensory attributes of Pepeta to enhance its use and commercialization as a culturally accepted product.
A survey will be conducted on current Pepeta production to benchmark information needed for developing suitable and innovative processing technologies for improved nutritional and enhanced economic values. Laboratory experiments will be carried out to: characterise the nutritional and physicochemical properties of immature rice varieties used for Pepeta production; determine the effect of the major processing step of Pepeta production, i.e. roasting, on the sensory attributes of rice grains with different maturity levels; establish the effect of roasting on the nutritional quality of the most commonly used rice varieties; and assess consumer acceptance of Pepeta produced by optimised processing practices of selected raw material.