SMALL FISH AND FOOD SECURITY: THE CLEANING AND COOKING METHODS OF SMALL FISH IN POOR GHANAIAN HOUSEHOLDS
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- Master theses 
Background: The increased burden of malnutrition is a persistent problem in low and middle-income countries, but small fish is emerging as a potential source to combat micronutrient deficiencies and malnutrition. Fish is an important part of the everyday diet among the poor population in Ghana, but the rate of malnutrition nonetheless remains relatively higher compared to the wealthy groups. Cleaning, and cooking processes are important to be studied because they can alter the nutrients and the hygiene quality of the fish, yet in Ghana, there is a dearth in this area of research. This study therefore sought to fill the knowledge gap and to pave way for further research into the cleaning and cooking practices among poor households in Ghana. Objective: Determine the cleaning, and cooking practices of small fish among poor Ghanaian households. Methods: The study was an exploratory qualitative study. The respondents were purposively sampled to fit the needs of the study. A total of 29 respondents from poor households in the coastal regions of Ghana were interviewed and observed. One-on-one interviews were audio recorded and the observations were videotaped - due to COVID-19, this was done remotely with the help of field assistants and daily contact. Results: The commonly eaten small fish species found were anchovies, herrings and round sardinella - this is because of taste, low cost, and tradition. Fried or dried anchovies were eaten whole with the head- fresh round sardinella were boiled with viscera, head, gills, fins, and scales removed - herrings were preferred smoked with scales, gills, and fins removed; but the head and viscera of the smoked herring were not included when boiling. Usually, anchovies were fried and eaten after; fresh round sardinella were boiled singly with spices before being added to soup; already smoked herrings were added to soup to boil. Frying lasted 10 minutes average, and sun-drying could take 3 days. Boiling took 15-30 minutes. Smoking was done using a traditional smoker and it lasted for an average of 15 minutes. Conclusion: Processing, and cleaning methods depends on the small fish species. Only anchovies were eaten whole with head and viscera intact. Although herrings were smoked with head and viscera intact, they were removed before boiling and consumption. There is a linkage between preference for fresh sardinella and direct access to fishermen, or intimacy with a fisherman in this study. Whether or not the poor households are eating a good amount of nutrients or ingesting toxic substances from the small fish they consume is unclear. Thus, these findings presented may be a pivot for future research of this nature.