Vitamin A (VA) deficiency causes disability and mortality. Cassava can be crossbred to improve its β-carotene (BC) content; typical white cassava contains negligible amounts of BC. However, cassava contains cyanide and its continued consumption may lead to chronic disability. Our objective was to estimate the risk–benefit of consuming BC-enhanced cassava to increase VA intake. A total of ten American women were fed white and BC-enhanced cassava. BC and cyanide data from the feeding study were combined with African cassava consumption data to model the potential daily BC, VA and cyanide intakes of African women. If BC-enhanced cassava replaced white cassava in the diets, it could theoretically meet recommended VA intakes for the following percentages of individuals from six African countries that consume cassava as a staple crop: Angola (95 %), Central African Republic (95 %), Congo (about 100 %), Ghana (99 %), Mozambique (99 %) and Nigeria (92 %). Cyanide intake after minimal preparation of cassava could be thirteen to thirty-two times the reference dose (RfD), a toxicological exposure reference, but could be completely removed by extensive soaking. This study demonstrates that consumption of BC-enhanced cassava, processed to maintain BC and remove cyanide, theoretically increases VA intakes for African populations and other areas of the world where cassava is a staple crop.
Katz, J.M.; La Frano, M.R.; Winter, C.K.; Burri, B.J. Modelling potential &#946;-carotene intake and cyanide exposure from consumption of biofortified cassava. Journal of Nutritional Science (2013) 2: e6. [DOI: 10.1017/jns.2012.30]