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Book chapter2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Improving Safety of Cassava Products

Chiwona-Karltun, L.; Brimer, L.; Jackson, J.


Cassava was domesticated in the Amazon Basin, where Native Americans selected many bitter varieties, and devised methods for detoxifying them. Cassava reached Africa in the sixteenth century, where rural people soon learned to remove the cyanogenic toxins, e.g., by drying and fermenting the roots. Processing cassava to remove the cyanogenic toxins including the cyanide formed during the processing is time consuming. The work is often done by women, while women and men often prefer bitter cassava varieties for social reasons and superior taste and color. In spite of deep, local knowledge of safe processing, traditional foods made with contaminated water may contain bacterial and fungal pathogens. Improper storage may encourage mycotoxins, such as aflatoxin. Recent advances in industrial processing are developing foods that are free of toxins and microbial contamination. Processing and selling cassava leaves is an emerging but fast-growing sector. Cassava leaves also contain cyanogenic toxins normally in higher concentrations than the cassava roots. In the future, more attention must be paid to the safe processing of cassava leaves and roots, especially as food processing becomes increasingly industrialized worldwide.


Bacterial contamination; Bitter cassava; Cassava food safety; Cassava processing; Detoxification; Fungal Toxins; Safe processing; Toxins; Women

Published in

Title: Root, Tuber and Banana Food System Innovations : Value Creation for Inclusive Outcomes
ISBN: 978-3-030-92021-0, eISBN: 978-3-030-92022-7
Publisher: Springer