Good for preserving vitamin A...or not?
Aurelie Bechoff examines orange sweet potato chips being sun-dried

Aurelie Bechoff, a food technologist, spent three years in Uganda and Mozambique conducting research on whether the substantial amount of vitamin A in orange sweet potato is retained during drying and subsequent storage.

This is important in areas where sweet potato cannot be grown year round and is stored for later use, or when it is processed into chips and other food products.

As a result of her fieldwork, she found that drying the sweet potato did not greatly affect retention of vitamin A, but storage did. In fact, after four months of storage, up to 70-80% of the vitamin A in the sweet potato can be lost.

On the basis of her research, which also investigated different drying and storage methods, Bechoff was recently awarded her doctorate from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI) at the University of Greenwich in England.

2011 Update: This research was recently published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology

NRI was a HarvestPlus partner in conducting research on orange sweet potato through pilot programs in Uganda and Mozambique from 2006 through 2009.

Selected Scientific Publications:
Bechoff A., D. Dufour, C. Dhuique-Mayer, C. Marouzé, M. Reynes, and A. Westby. 2009. Effect of hot air, solar and sun drying treatments on provitamin A retention of orange fleshed sweet potato. Journal of Food Engineering.

Bechoff, A., A. Westby, C. Owori, G. Menya, C. Dhuique-Mayer, D. Dufour, and K.Tomlins.2010. Effect of drying and storage on the degradation of total carotenoids in orange-fleshed sweet potato cultivars. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture.

Bechoff, A., Dhuique-Mayer, C., Dornier, M., Tomlins, K., Boulanger, R., Dufour, D. & Westby. 2010. Relationship between the kinetics of β-carotene degradation and norisoprenoid formation in the storage of dried sweet potato chips. Food Chemistry.