Microorganisms and food safety risks associated with indigenous fermented foods from Africa

Amarachukwu Anyogu, Ayomide Olukorede, Christian Anumudu, Helen Onyeaka, Esther Areo, Obadina Adewale, Joyce N. Odimba, Ogueri Nwaiwu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Indigenous fermented foods (IFFs) have a long history in Africa and are embedded in cultural norms and practices. Typically, these foods are produced at small or household scale using indigenous processing technologies. In addition, limited knowledge of good manufacturing and handling practices can lead to production under unhygienic conditions. This results in variations in the quality and safety attributes of IFFs, as spoilage and pathogenic bacteria can be introduced at any stage of the value chain. These foods have an important role in the African diet and can contribute to food security by increasing the availability of cheap, nutritious food and supporting livelihoods. However, the presence of foodborne pathogens and antibiotic-resistant bacteria in IFFs may constitute a health risk to consumers. Therefore, this review presents an overview of the microorganisms associated with IFFs from Africa, focusing on microbial food safety hazards. African indigenous fermented foods offer a vast genetic potential of undiscovered strains that possess valuable technical characteristics. However, IFFs may also serve as vehicles of pathogenic and antibiotic-resistant bacteria and genetic determinants. Significant research and data gaps exist regarding the microbiological safety of these food products, which warrant urgent attention. We propose practical solutions for improving the safety of African IFFs requiring action and collaboration from all stakeholders, including researchers, producers, governmental regulatory bodies, and consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Article number108227
Number of pages16
JournalFood Control
Early online date8 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Africa
  • Antibiotic resistance
  • Fermented foods
  • Food safety
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Pathogens


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