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Fermented Fish in Africa-eBook (2)

Fermented Fish in Africa-eBook (2)

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Fermented fish in Africa
Preparation of this document
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The Fourth FAO Expert Consultation on Fish Technology in Africa, held from 25 to 28April 1988 in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire, recommended inter alia that research should becarried out on fermented fish in Africa including:(i) description of the processes and products as well as an assessment of their importance;(ii) scientific analysis of the processes; and(iii) product development.The Fish Utilization and Marketing Service of FAO's Fishery Industries Divisioncommissioned Mr Kofi Manso Essuman, a fish technologist and nutritionist from Ghana,to collect information through literature research and visits to selected countries in theSahel region and West Africa known for their fermented fish production. This work wasdone in November and December 1991 and Mr Essuman submitted his report in February1992. The report was subsequently edited and printed by FAO.Mr Essuman is presently employed by Lever Brothers (Ghana) Ltd. and can be contactedat P.O. Box 11716, Accra-North, Ghana.The references have not been checked for conformity with the standard FAO format.Distribution:FAO Fisheries DepartmentFAO Regional Fishery OfficersSelected institutes and projectsAuthor 
Abstract
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Essuman, K.M.Fermented fish in Africa. A study on processing, marketing and consumption.FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 329. Rome, FAO. 1992. 80p.
 
This report is based on surveys carried out in Burundi, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia,Ghana, Mali, Senegal, the Sudan and Uganda to identify the various types of fermentedfishery products, their processing characteristics and economic importance. It wasobserved that fermented fish processing is an artisanal activity and the processes differ from one country to another. Three basic methods were identified: fermentation withsalting and drying; fermentation and drying without salting; and fermentation with saltingbut no drying. It was also observed in the study that, unlike in Southeast Asian countries,fermented fishery products in Africa are usually whole or in cut pieces, and are not apaste or sauce. Fermented fish is used in Africa both as a condiment and as food fish.Fermented fishery products contribute to protein intake of the people especially those inthe rural hinterland where fresh fish is not readily available. Curing by fermentation wasfound to be an important method of preservation particularly because poor quality fish or unpopular species of fish are usually processed in this way. For this reason, fermentationhelps to salvage fish which would otherwise have been thrown away. Post harvest lossesin African artisanal fisheries may thus be lower than often assumed. The sanitaryconditions of fermented fish production were generally found to be poor and processingmethods were not standardized. In the light of the observations made, somerecommendations have been suggested to improve quality in order to enhance intra-regional trade in fish and fishery products.
1. Introduction
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Artisanal fish processing remains the predominant and most important method of fishpreservation in Africa. The principal methods are smoking, sun-drying, salting,fermentation, grilling and frying. These processes may either be used alone or combinedin order to achieve the desired product. For instance, smoking is often accompanied bydrying. Similarly, salting and sun-drying are often combined to get a well preservedproduct. Invariably, the final product is distinguished by peculiar qualities such as aroma,flavour and colour according to the consumer's preference.The choice of a particular processing method is greatly influenced by the area'sgeographical location, socio-economic factors and the food habits of the local people. For instance, due to the availability of fuel wood and solar salt in Ghana, a lot of fish issmoked, fermented or salted and dried. These cured fishery products are the most popular form in which fish is generally consumed in Ghana. A Ghanaian housewife will normallyuse different types of cured fishery products to prepare the family meal in order toachieve a desirable flavour in the soup or stew which is eaten with the traditional starchystaples such as cassava, plantain, yam, rice, etc.Fermentation is one method of fish curing in which the development of a distinctiveflavour in the final product is the principal objective. Therefore, this product is mainlyused as a condiment in the preparation of traditional sauces.
 
Fermentation alone as a curing process does not preserve fish because it results in thebreakdown of fish muscle. For this reason, fermentation is often combined with saltingand/or drying in order to reduce water activity and retard or eliminate the growth of proteolytical and putrefying bacteria. In Southeast Asia the fermentation process oftenlasts for several months and the final product is usually a paste, sauce or liquid. In Africa,however, fish fermentation lasts from a few hours to about two weeks. Under suchconditions, fermentation is usually partial and the muscle structure is not broken downcompletely. Consequently, the fish retains its original form of whole or cut pieces after fermentation and can be eaten as food fish or used as a condiment.Fish fermentation is generally accompanied by the development of a mild or strong odouwhich becomes associated with the final product. Fermented fishery products in Africamay either be soft with a high moisture content, semi-dry or very dry. Some products arealso heavily salted and dried whilst others are dried without any salting. Some types of fermented products have a rancid taste.The various types of fermented fishery products consumed in Africa have not beenstudied in any detail. This report describes the processing characteristics of fermentedfish in Burundi, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, the Sudan andUganda. It also evaluates the socioeconomic effects as well as consumer attitudes tofermented fish in these countries.In this report, fermented fish includes salted and/or sun-dried fishery products in whichsome degree of desirable enzymatic or microbiological change has taken place in the fishmuscle.
2. Literature review
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2.1 Introduction
Fermented fish have, for many years, been considered as a Southeast Asian product.These products are highly salted and fermented until the fish flesh is transformed intosimpler components. Fish fermentation in the Southeast Asian sub-region normally lastsfor several months (three to nine months) and the fish flesh may liquefy or turn into apaste (Huss and Valdimarson, 1990). Some of these products include nuoc-mam of 

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