FolEA : Contribution of cereal-based fermented foods to folate intake in European and African countries

Project identifier 13-FOLEA
Project Status finished
Start date 2014-09-01
End date 2017-12-31
Roadmap Theme
  • Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Improved food value chains
  • Agriculture and food systems for nutrition: Improved nutritional value
  • Type of Project Applied research project
    Programme ERAfrica
    Keyword Nutrition; Folic acid; Fermentation
    Location France; Finland; South Africa; Ethiopia; Burkina Faso
    Budget 341 736
    Main Funder Research Institute for Development (IRD)
    Co Funder Academy of Finland
    Co Funder Finnish Cultural Foundation
    Co Funder Department of Science and Technology (DST), South Africa
    Coordinator Institut de Recherche en Sciences Appliquées et Technologies (IRSAT)
  • University of Helsinki
  • University of Pretoria
  • Addis Ababa University
  • University of Western Cape
  • Project Web Site
    Documents Publication: Lactic acid fermentation as a tool for increasing the folate content of foods


    Folate (also known as folic acid or vitamin B9) is involved in vital functions of cell metabolism. Dietary insufficiencies are typically to blame for inadequate amounts of folate, which can cause a number of critical health problems. Poor folate intake poses a significant societal burden not only in developing, but also in many industrialized countries. Especially in countries where mandatory folic acid fortification is not practiced, even a moderate increase in vitamin content of foods consumed regularly may significantly improve folate intake.While some countries have established mandatory food fortification with synthetic folic acid, concerns exist about the safety of such large-scale fortifications. Using fermentation to improve the folate content of cereal-based staple foods is another option for improving folate content. Besides increasing the sanitary and nutritional quality of foods, this process is also a sustainable, ancestral way of preserving food products. The production of folates by lactic acid bacteria during food fermentation has been validated in dairy products, but not enough is known about cereal-based fermented foods. Furthermore, the absorption of folate by the body from natural folate forms has been rarely studied, especially in African foods.To examine these questions, the FolEA consortium brought together an international group of scientists from Africa and Europe, specialized in microbiology, nutrition, food chemistry, and food technology. Since October 2014, they have been working together on the possibility of improving the intakes of folates by women and young children by using fermentation to increase the folate contents of traditional cereal-based staple foods. FolEA has brought the results achieved thus far to the scientific community through presentations and posters at international conferences and four published scientific articles.

    This is an ERAfrica project