The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) featured a vitamin-rich and mineral-filled crop that is a sure winner for health and wellness — mushroom. The seminar series on mushroom production and food products was held on 6 December 2012 at the BAR Conference Hall.

Investing in mushroom business is not always expensive. This was elaborated more by Dr. Emily Soriano of the Central Luzon Integrated Agricultural Research Center (CLIARC) during her presentation titled, “Mushroom Tissue Culture Production”.

“You can start with five thousand pesos as an initial capital for a village-level mushroom laboratory,” Dr. Soriano said as she explained about enterprising in mushroom production.

An edible fungi characterized by its nature to grow and obtain food from decomposing organic matter, mushrooms are highly rich in vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to human health.

The vitamins that mushroom contains are Vitamin D, B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid), B9 (Folate), and H (Biotin). Meanwhile, minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and ergothioneine are found present in mushrooms.

According to Dr. Soriano, unlike vegetables and fruits, mushrooms have the ability to keep and concentrate its vitamins and minerals amidst various processing methods. This is the reason why mushrooms have a good market niche in the now health-wise consumer populace.

“Ninety percent of mushrooms consumed in the Philippines are imported. The average volume of imported mushrooms per year is 150 tons,” Dr. Soriano discussed.

If local production of mushrooms will be optimized, the need to import mushroom will not be an issue anymore. “Species of imported mushrooms can all be grown in the Philippines. Temperate varieties can be grown in an artificial environment,” Dr. Soriano added.

More mushroom producers and processors would mean more income for our farmers and more affordable and sufficient supply for our consumers.

The production materials in mushroom cultivation are mainly agricultural wastes such as rice straw, sugarcane bagasse, tobacco midribs, water lilies, sawdust, corn cobs, corn leaves, grass and other similar materials.

Even though the materials are accessible and inexpensive, issues and concerns regarding production volume, target market, consumer awareness, and product development and processing are still present.

In order to motivate the participants to enter the mushroom business, Dr. Soriano discussed the procedures in mushroom propagation through tissue culture method.

There are four stages in mushroom cultivation. These are: 1) pure culture fresh mushroom, 2)rapid multiplication (subcultures), 3)spawn preparation, and 4)planting for fruit production.

Among the very important aspects in mushroom production and processing are sanitation and safety protocols that maintain the freshness and cleanliness of food products. Ms. Leslie Ollave of CLIARC discussed these matters in her presentation titled “Sanitation and Hygiene in the Production of Mushroom Food Products”.

“The difference between hygiene and sanitation is that the former is a condition of being healthy or free from illness and disease particularly of a person involved in the preparation and production of food products, while the latter is a process of making things clean in order to produce quality and safe products,” Ms. Ollave elucidated.

There are many food hazards that are eliminated through proper hygiene and sanitary measures. There are the 1)biological hazard such as bacteria, yeast, molds, viruses, insects, and parasites, 2)chemical hazards such as pesticides and toxic elements and 3)physical hazards such as plastic, wood chips, paper, hair and sand.

But among these hazards, microorganisms are considered as the most significant because they are abundant in nature, are not seen by the naked eye, and are either harmful or beneficial for the human health.

A good way to avoid any complications is the utilization and implementation of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). “GMP is a set of sanitary guidelines for compliance in the manufacture and distribution of food,” said Ms. Ollave.

GMP covers personnel hygiene, surroundings, sanitary condition of working place, and the layout of working place. These protocols are applied in mushroom production and processing in order to produce healthy and high-quality goods.

Before the seminar ended, Ms. Ollave discussed some of the mushroom product technologies that are developed and can become part of our healthy diet.

Among the products shown were mushroom fresh noodles, fried noodles, pasta, cookies, crackers, jam, marmalade, pulvoron, barquillos, wine, juice, banana-mushroom muffin, pickled mushroom, and adobo mushroom.

The participants were also given the chance to taste the banana-mushroom muffin and crackers. Afterwards, the participants were requested to evaluate the visual, taste, and texture impact and acceptability of these products in order to implement necessary product improvements.

BAR continues to support all R&D endeavors that involve the development and commercialization of high-potential food crops like mushroom.

Source: Leila Denisse E. Padilla, Bar Chronicle December 2012 Issue (Vol. 13 No. 12)