By Prossy Nandudu
Consumption of poorly processed peanut butter can cause Cancer of the Liver, according to a research by Makerere University, in partnership with the University of Georgia.
Dr. A. Achilleo Kaaya, the lead researcher from the faculty of Food Science and Technology, said most of the groundnuts are contaminated during the harvest and storage process.
The problem has been compounded further by the processors who mix the quality groundnuts with the dirty and rotten ones while grinding, he added on the sidelines of a workshop on eliminating afrotoxins in peanut butter processing.
The workshop held at Makerere University is also attended by participants from University of Georgia, Uganda Industrial research and USAID.
His revelation follows a research conducted in eight districts of Eastern Uganda since 2000, where it was discovered that most of the groundnuts were dried on the ground, and poorly stored.
"When thee groundnuts are poorly dried and stored, they pick mold and dirt, which attracts a fungi, that releases aflotoxin chemicals that are dangerous to human health especially the liver," said Kaaya. According to Kaaya, the toxins are not visible and their destruction could lead to the burning of foods to ashes.
He added that other health related problems like :underweight among children below five years, suppressed immune system, were likely to increase because groundnuts are widely consumed in Uganda as the main source of plant protein, next to beans.
'Directly looking at peanut butter, it is not easy to see the aflotoxins. Unfortunately, any of the methods we use for preparing the nuts, cooking, roasting, cannot remove the toxins because they are chemicals. Their melting point is 300 degrees Celsius,' Kaaya added.
A nutritionist Dr. Elizabeth Kiboneka in a separate interview however said that the butter can only cause cancer if it comes into contact with afrotoxins(fungi).
The three day workshop, is aimed at training industry peanut processors methods of eliminating aflotoxins, using simple methods like sorting groundnuts to separate the moldy nuts from the good ones to reduce the aflotocix levels below the dangerous level.
Poorly processed peanut butter causes cancer