Powdered Egg Developed to Improve Nutrition in Diets of Rural Sub-Saharan African Populations
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The major factors affecting food security in Sub-Saharan Africa are not limited to low production and food waste. They also include nutritional imbalances in consumers' diets. The majority of consumers, especially in rural communities, feed on carbohydrates with low-protein intake. This has affected the health status of rural dwellers, especially pregnant women and children.
Among the cheapest sources of protein in Sub-Saharan Africa are eggs. Eggs are excellent sources of high quality protein, vitamins and minerals. Both the yolk and white components are of high biological value and are readily digested. Unfortunately, egg production and consumption is still limited to the elites and urban dwellers. This is due to the low availability of technical expertise, vaccines and bad road networks in rural communities, which all result in lowered egg production. The bulkiness and fragile nature of eggs also make distribution from the urban centers to rural areas a challenge. The cumulative effect is the low-protein content of food consumed in rural areas leading to malnutrition and improper growth.
In 1982, advanced countries like United States had 12% of their total egg consumption come from powdered egg product. This has now risen to 30% as a result of several new technologies, such as improved egg breaking machines, better dryers and new approaches to pasteurization, which have lead to a variety of new egg products (Froning, 1998). However, in developing countries—particularly Sub-Saharan Africa—research into powder egg production is novel due to the unavailability of necessary materials for processing. Powdered egg provides a convenient alternative to fresh egg, as powdered egg is easier to store up to a year or longer under ambient conditions. There is also a reduced risk of contamination, as powder egg is microbiologically stable with reduced volume. It can also serve as a safe guide against glut, which is usually expressed in some seasons and serves as encouragement to production. Also, owing to the poor road network—especially in rural areas—transportation of fresh eggs in Sub-Saharan Africa is a challenge. This is compounded due to fresh eggs' bulkiness, fragility and perishability. This has created the need to produce eggs in powder form as ready-to-use, which will enhance their convenience, stability, extension of shelf life and provide nutrient supplement qualities.
The preliminary study conducted by the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI) shows that the dehydration of fresh egg to powder form could be used to address the challenge. More studies to determine the drying characteristics of fresh egg into powdered products in all viable types of eggs should be intensified and the techniques deployed for commercial production. This will serve as an incentive for agro-businesses that are better mobilized for the production of eggs but do not consider the postharvest issues of processing and packaging of the product into powder. It will also reduce wastage during glut periods and provide effective distribution channels to rural areas to improve their nutritional status.