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International Union of Food Science and Technology Award for UJ Student

UJ Department of Biotechnology and Food Technology doctoral student, Oluwafemi Adebo, won the 2nd prize for his Masters research at the 2016 International Union of Food Science and Technology (IUFoST) Food Safety Without Borders Graduate Student competition in Dublin, Ireland, this August.

IUFoST is a country-membership organization and the global voice of food science and technology that promotes the advancement of food science and technology globally via exchange of scientific knowledge and ideas. It aims to strengthen food science and technology’s role in helping secure the world’s food supply and eliminate world hunger. The department was represented by two staff, three students and one postdoctoral fellow presenting 7 papers, which cut across the different disciplines of food science and technology at the IUFoST Congress.

In keeping with IUFoST’s vision, graduate students are invited to submit academic papers addressing a food problem present in indigenous foods of their country/region in a marketable way with the objective of enhancing global food safety. Adebo’s entry was a paper titled: “Aflatoxin B1 degradation by culture and lysate of a Pontibacter sp”.

Co-supervised by Dr Patrick Njobeh and Dr Vuyo Mavumengwana of UJ, the study found that cultures and lysates of a bacteria strain (Pontibacter sp.), isolated from an ultra-deep South African Gold mine aquifer, can effectively degrade aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) and render it less toxic. “This mycotoxin (poison from fungi) is highly toxic in nature and the most naturally occurring potent carcinogen, known to be a huge food safety issue in developing countries most notably in Africa. The ever increasing proliferation of food and feed commodities by AFB1 necessitates an effective control approach to mitigate its occurrence and toxicity thereafter,” Dr Njobeh explained.

Dr Mavumengwana added that challenges associated with approaches or strategies (chemical or physical means) in controlling AFB1 have either produced minimal results or enabled the food less desirable, thus making biological approaches more preferable. Three research articles from the study have since been published in top, high impact factor journals in food science and technology including: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, International Journal of Food Microbiology and Food Control.

Adebo obtained his Masters cum laude and is currently carrying out his Doctoral research on the Nutraceutical properties of a fermented sorghum product (Ting) under the supervision of Dr Eugenie Kayitesi and Dr Njobeh. He is a member of several professional bodies including the International Association for Food Protection, the Institute of Food Technologist, the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology, South African Association of Food Science and Technology, the South African Chromatographic Association, South African Association of Mass Spectrometry, the Mycotoxicology Society of Nigeria, Society of Toxicology, Society for Applied Microbiology, the World Association of Young Scientists and the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development.

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