Fungal colonization of sago starch in Papua New Guinea

Greenhill, A.R., Shipton, W.A., Blaney, B.J., and Warner, J.M. (2007) Fungal colonization of sago starch in Papua New Guinea. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 119 (3). pp. 284-290.

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Abstract

Sago starch is an important source of dietary carbohydrates in lowland Papua New Guinea. Over the past 30 years there have been sporadic reports of severe illness following consumption of sago starch. A common assumption is that fungal metabolites might be associated with the illness, leading to the need for a more thorough investigation of the mycoflora of sago starch. Sago starch was collected from areas of high sago consumption in Papua New Guinea for fungal analysis (69 samples). Storage methods and duration were recorded at the time of collection and pH on arrival at the laboratory. Yeasts were isolated from all samples except two, ranging from 1.2 × 103 to 8.3 × 107 cfu/g. Moulds were isolated from 65 of the 69 samples, ranging from 1.0 × 102 to 3.0 × 106 cfu/g. Of 44 samples tested for ergosterol content, 42 samples showed the presence of fungal biomass. Statistical analyses indicated that sago starch stored for greater than five weeks yielded significantly higher ergosterol content and higher numbers of moulds than sago stored for less than five weeks. The method of storage was also shown to influence mould numbers with storage in natural woven fibre containers returning significantly greater numbers than present in other storage methods tested. Potentially mycotoxigenic genera of moulds including Aspergillus and Penicillium were commonly isolated from sago starch, and as such storage factors that influence the growth of these and other filamentous fungi might contribute to the safety of traditional sago starch in PNG.

Item ID: 2494
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: sago starch; yeast; mould; ergosterol
Additional Information:

ISSN: 0168-1605
Date Deposited: 22 Jul 2009 01:00
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1108 Medical Microbiology > 110899 Medical Microbiology not elsewhere classified @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920406 Food Safety @ 100%
Citation Count from Web of Science Web of Science 7
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