Sixty samples of a traditional flavouring agent and taste enhancer (FATE) locally referred to as Lanhouin obtained by spontaneous fermentation of cassava fish (Pseudotolithus sp.) and king fish (Scomberomorus tritor), used as traditional condiment to enhance the flavour of many dishes were purchased from processing sites and markets, for physico-chemical and microbiological characterization using standard methods. FATE samples exhibited similar water activity level (0.75-0.77), variable pH values (6.88-7.68), variable amounts of dry matter (43.4-47.2 g/100 g), salt (18.7-26.6 g/100 g DM), protein (49.2–53.8 g/100 g DM), lipid (10.8-47.4 g/100 g DM), thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (24.8 to 27.1 mg malonaldehyde/kg DM), total volatile nitrogen (453.6 to 618.6 mg N/100 g DM) and acidity index (1.7 to 4.9 g oleic acid /100 g DM), various organic acids and histamine contents within acceptable limit of 20 mg/100 g for 87% of samples analysed. For all these chemical components, significant differences (p < 0.05) were observed between fish species and between sampling places. Total viable counts were ranged between 3.6 to 4.2 Log cfu/g. No Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes were found in any FATE sample. The technological flora such as lactic acid bacteria were enumerated (1.2 Log cfu/g) in 42% of samples while coagulase negative Staphylococci were found in all the FATE samples (2.9-3.9 Log cfu/g).
Key words: King fish, cassava fish, flavouring agent, Lanhouin, fermentation, quality characteristics.
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