The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has warned the general public that fruits ripened with calcium carbide and buying drugs from hawkers is a complete risk that could lead to death.
The Director-General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, stated this on Tuesday, in her keynote address during the media sensitization workshop on “Dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide”, held in Awka, the Anambra State capital.
Adeyeye said the chemicals in calcium carbide were hazardous to pregnant women and children and will lead to headaches, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids, sleepiness, seizure, and others.
The programme was organised by NAFDAC for the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, South-East Zone with a view to sensitising residents of the region on the dangers and risks associated with such acts.
She said, “The consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide may cause cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure and we must avoid such.
“Calcium carbide generally contained impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, and others that pose several serious health hazards.
‘Fruits ripened with calcium carbide could cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcer.
“You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, this is true especially with banana and plantain. In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly.”
The DG noted that since 2019, the agency had taken some decisive steps such as sensitization of the public through different media outlets, enforcement through intelligence, and raids in fruit markets that have resulted in seizures and destruction of violative products.
She added that the agency had commissioned a scientific study on the best approach towards mitigating the health hazards posed by the ripening of fruits with carbides.
“The artificial ripening of fruits quality would lead to the considerable loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits,
“These fruits do not possess uniform colour and are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have a comparatively shorter shelf life,” she added.
She further explained that acetylene produced by calcium carbide would affect the neurological system and reduce oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.
The participants were enlightened on natural methods of ripening fruits.