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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Development of edible and medicinal mushrooms as functional foods in Ghana

PI: Mary Baaru Obodai (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Food Research Institute)
U.S. Partner: Steven J. Schwartz (The Ohio State University)
Project Dates: August 2013 to March 2016
2-251 Panelist undertaking hedonic scale test of mushroom cereal blend
Panelist undertaking hedonic scale test of mushroom cereal blend (Photo courtesy Dr. Obodai).
Across the world, including Ghana, edible wild mushrooms are commonly collected when in season. Mushrooms are low in fat and sugars, a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals and most importantly, are the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids. Edible mushrooms have attracted much interest as functional foods due to their antimutagenic, anti-tumor and anti-viral properties. Food product development must address these changing consumer demands; the development of a convenient mushroom-based functional food is one example. Thus, the goals of this project are to (1) develop methods to cultivate different mushrooms in Ghana and assess nutritional quality, (2) develop a mushroom-based infant functional food and (3) assess the consumer acceptability of the new mushroom product. Four species of mushrooms--two oyster mushrooms, monkey seat, and termite mushrooms--will be cultivated as part of the project, using agricultural residues and tissue culture methods to transform organic waste into food. Product development will initially focus on infant food, guided by the needs of consumers and considering both technical feasibility and profitability.

The U.S. partner will provide technical training to Dr. Obodai and a member of her group, and unemployed women and rural groups will be targeted as the workforce for production of the food products to be developed. The anticipated outcomes of the project include four mushroom species available for use and further product development, a new market-tested mushroom-based product ready for commercialization, and a trained workforce to grow and produce the initial mushroom product. Ultimately, the project researchers hope that expanding children’s diets to include mushroom products will reduce the burden of malnutrition and improve food security in Ghana and throughout Africa.
Summary of Recent Activities
Harvesting and milling of two cultivated mushrooms (Pleurotus tuber-regium and Ganoderma lucidum) continued during the first quarter of 2015. Sensory analysis was conducted on six mushroom samples (Pleurotus ostreatus strain EM-1, P. sajorcaju strain PscW, P. tuber-regium, Auricularia auricula, and Ganoderma sp.) using rice as the main cereal. The sensory method (hedonic scale) was used to determine whether panelists liked the samples when compared to the control sample, a cereal blend with no mushrooms added. Samples were prepared and tested at the Test Kitchen of the CSIR-Food Research Institute, Accra.

In the coming months, panel responses from the hedonic scale test will be analyzed and sensory evaluation will be conducted in the sensory evaluation laboratory of the CSIR-Food Research Institute to select the best six mushroom-based weanimixes from the 24 mushroom-based samples for a consumer acceptability test using the maize cereals. Once ethical clearance is obtained from the Institutional Review Board of CSIR, a consumer acceptability test will be conducted at a community child health center in Madina, Accra. Fifty caregivers with 2- to 5-year-old children will be involved in this exercise and will be fed the best mushroom-based weanimixes. Data and sample collection will also continue, with more samples of edible and medicinal fungi gathered from two forest reserves in the Brong Ahafo and Western Regions of Ghana, as well as investigations into the approximate composition, vitamin, mineral content, antioxidant capacity, and radical scavenging activity of the new edible and wild mushroom species. Samples will be cultivated to identify the best growing conditions, and wild samples will be sent for further analysis at Ohio State University.

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