Characterization of Peanut Pastes Sold on Selected Ghanaian Markets
Peanuts are widely cultivated and consumed in Ghana, with peanut paste being the most popular product. The traditional processing of peanut paste is largely artisanal resulting in inconsistent product quality. This study evaluated the physico-chemical characteristics, oxidative stability and shelf life of peanut pastes sold in four selected markets in Accra, Ghana and a Reference sample prepared under laboratory conditions. Proximate compositions, colour, soluble protein, rheological characteristics, aflatoxins contamination levels and acid insoluble ash of the peanut pastes were determined. The proximate composition of the pastes was similar but, colour and soluble protein content differed significantly among the samples. Aflatoxins contamination levels were generally higher than the Codex limits although pastes were stable for 9 weeks at ambient temperature. Variations in peanut paste quality from different processors could be attributed to process variability due to lack of standardized units of operations. This could be ameliorated through appropriate equipment designs and training schedules for artisanal peanut paste processors.