University of Zambia students researching new peanut butters
By Allison Floyd
University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab
Would peanut butter made with different varieties of nuts taste as good? Students in University of Zambia’s Department of Food Science and Nutrition are going to find out.
“Currently, only one local variety is commonly used for peanut butter in Zambia. So we want to try out three to four local varieties and conduct sensory/consumer evaluations to determine how consumers perceive them,” said Nyambe Mkandawire, a lecturer in UNZA’s food science and nutrition program. At the same time, researchers will conduct physicochemical tests, shelf life studies and other studies on the alternative peanut butters.
An employee at a Lusaka agricultural equipment supplier demonstrates a new peanut butter-making machine in October 2016 to students and faculty from the University of Zambia, which is opening a pilot food-processing plant. The machine, purchased through PMIL, will be one of the first pieces of equipment and will assist both with research and community training. (Photo by Allison Floyd)
The Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, which collaborates with UNZA and sponsors students in the food science and agronomy soil science programs, recently helped acquire peanut roasting and grinding equipment for the research.
Some of the student researchers are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in food science and nutrition (which does not offer graduate degrees at UNZA), while others are masters of science students in human nutrition, agricultural engineering, chemistry, biological sciences and related programs.
The peanut butter-maker is one of the first pieces of equipment for a new lab that will allow students to perform practical research and train local processors in safe techniques.
“Of course, this equipment has come with the roasting equipment, and we would like to add a blancher for cleaning the roasted peanuts,” said John Shindano, a fellow lecturer in UNZA’s food science and nutrition program. “Since the focus is on research, we would also like to build capacity in testing for quality and safety tests in peanuts such as color, rheological tests and other related tests.”
UNZA researchers already can test for total aflatoxin within a sample, but would like to be able to test for particular types of aflatoxin, most especially B1, since experts believe it is the most dangerous to human health.
The processing equipment will allow a spectrum of work – from research projects to learning labs to community training sessions.
“We hope to use the peanut butter-making machine as a teaching tool for practicals in courses such as Food Colloids, Plant and Vegetable Technology and other courses. The machine will be a valuable piece of equipment that will be incorporated into a pilot plant that the department of Food Science and Nutrition is planning to establish,” said Mkandawire. “Overall, the machine will be used for both research, training and community services (beyond the life of the project).”
Published January 13, 2017