Cassava meal is popular especially in some parts in Nigeria. Cassava flour is also gaining momentum as a “go-to” gluten-free, grain-free flour. And it’s not surprising when you consider that those who follow restricted diets typically have to blend several flours to achieve the same consistency as wheat flour.
It’s therefore sad and unexplainable what could have killed 6 people after consumption of cassava meal. As reported by NAN, 6 people, including a mother, three of her children and two of their neighbours on Tuesday lost their lives in Ogaminana area of Okene in Kogi after eating a meal made from cassava flour.
The Public Relations Officer of the Adavi Local Government, Abdulhamid Salahudeen told newsmen on phone that three of the victims died on Tuesday at the Okene General Hospital while the woman and two of her children had earlier died on Monday in their house.
He said that the woman died alongside three of her children, two sons and a daughter. According to him two male children of her neighbour that partook in the meal also died. He put the ages of the dead five children at between 9 and 15 years.
Salaudeen said that the mother had in the evening of Sunday, Oct. 30 brought the cassava flour (white Amala) from her farmland at Ohuepe village. He said that the woman prepared a dinner from the yam flour for the family and extended the food to her neighbour.
The officer said the victims later went to bed but developed severe stomach pain over the night which later resulted in the death of the woman and two of her children.
He said that neighbours who sensed that the sudden deaths might be due to the cassava flour dinner quickly rushed the remaining three children that partook in the eating to Okene General Hospital where they died on Tuesday.
Salaudeen said that the authority of the local government believed that the cassava flour was poisoned and had informed the police for appropriate action.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CASSAVA FLOUR
1. Cassava flour is gluten, grain and nut-free
The cassava plant is a staple crop to millions of inhabitants in South America and parts of Asia and Africa. The plant produces the cassava root, a starchy, high-carbohydrate tuber – similar to yam, taro, plantains and potato.
2. Cassava flour is not the same as tapioca flour
Tapioca is a starch extracted from the cassava root through a process of washing and pulping. The wet pulp is then squeezed to extract a starchy liquid. Once all the water evaporates from the starchy liquid, the tapioca flour remains.
3. Cassava flour is not poisonous
It’s true that the cassava root contains naturally occurring cyanide compounds (also found in almonds and spinach!) and that yes, they can be extremely toxic. But only if eaten raw. Rest assured that all commercially available cassava and tapioca flours do not contain any harmful levels of cyanide.
4. Cassava flour is high in carbohydrates
Given that cassava is a starchy tuber, you would expect it to have a high carbohydrate profile. But it’s higher than you most likely imagined.
Eat cassava flour recipes moderately
5. Cassava flour is the most similar to wheat flour (of gluten-free flours)
This is the holy grail characteristic of cassava flour! Unlike other gluten-free flours such as almond or coconut flour, cassava flour is very mild and neutral in flavor. It’s also not grainy or gritty in texture – rather, it’s soft and powdery.