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Sweet Little Gabonese Palm Wine: A Neglected Alcohol

E.M Mavioga
J.U Mullot
C Frederic
B Huart
P Burnat


BACKGROUND: During the last ten years, consumption of palm wine, a popular traditional alcoholic beverage, seriously increases in Gabon. This sweet beverage seems to be the main alcohol and the most drunken in low socioeconomic population. OBJECTIVE: To have an idea of it composition and toxicity, 21 samples of palm wine were collected in the country and analysed. METHODS: Twenty-one palm wine samples were randomly selected from all over Gabon. Methanol and ethanol concentrations in the samples were measured by gas chromatography. Aromatic hydrocarbons were measured by selected ion monitoring mode in mass spectrometry. Delection of heavy metals was by standard techniques. RESULTS: Gabonese palm wine contained ethanol at a mean concentration of about 60 g.L-1, i.e. 7.5° (volume %), volatile components such as alcohols, aldehydes, carboxylic acids and esters and trace metals. Trace metals were present at low concentrations below internationally recognized maximal limits for alcoholic beverages with less than 2 μg.L-1 for cadmium, less than 10 μg.L-1 for arsenic and for lead 15 samples with concentrations under 10 μg.L-1 and the last six samples with concentrations between 11 and 61 μg.L-1. None of the searched aromatic or chlorinated solvents, indicative of refined fuel or industrial contamination, was detected. CONCLUSION: For the parameters analyzed here, there seems to be no significant difference in constitution between Gabonese wine palm and others kind of palm wine produced in West Africa. This alcohol, need to be more considered by public health authorities and medical teams because of its health and economic consequences.

WAJM 2009; 28(5): 291–294.

Keywords: Ethanol, palm wine, alcohol abuse, Gabon.

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eISSN: 0189-160X