Recently, the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), issued a warning to Nigerians on the danger in taking fruits ripened with Calcium Carbide. The Agency warned Nigerians who sell fruits against using calcium carbide to ripen fruits because it causes cancer, kidney and liver diseases.
The NAFDAC therefore, advised the citizens to stop eating fruits ripened with that chemical substance. In a statement they issued recently, it warned that the dangerous effects of carbide-ripened fruits includes; cancer and other illnesses. Findings have also shown that calcium carbide has cancer-causing properties and is capable of causing neurological disorder.
Medical experts said that it manifests in a�?tingling sensation, numbness and peripheral neuropathya�?. It is said also that if a pregnant woman consumes fruit ripened with carbide, a�?the child born could develop abnormalitiesa�?. The use of calcium carbide, the findings further disclosed, a�?is not only toxic to consumers, it may also be harmful to those who handle it. It affects the neurological system, resulting in headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, sleepiness, mental confusion and seizures on a short-term basis, while in the long-term it can cause memory loss and cerebral oedemaa�?.
The NAFDAC cautioned farmers and sellers of fruits against using this chemical in ripening fruits such as banana, mango, plantain, orange, and cashew. a�?Naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel quicklya�?, NAFDAC said. The Agency further warned that a�?ripening fruits and vegetables with calcium carbide is criminal offensea�?, and threatened that perpetrators would be prosecuted.
The food and drug regulatory agency also advised the general public to a�?report suspected cases to the nearest NAFDAC office or call 09094262773, 09094262772 and 08133630600a�?. The general public was advised to heed this danger warning and be conscious of the health hazards which those fruits ripen with calcium carbide could cause them.
This revelation is indeed coming out bit late because much damage may have been done to the health of many citizens who eat all kinds of fruits daily with the belief that it adds to their health needs, not knowing that it is part of their health challenges. Hardly a day passes without many homes adding fruits to their menu and it has now been revealed that most of those fruits are dangerous to health due to its handling.
But the issue is; how long has this practice being done in this country without anybody knowing its dangerous effect? It has been discovered that most fruit sellers engage in this practice of using carbide to ripen their fruits especially, those in urban areas. Perhaps they do it out of ignorance of the danger such practice constitute to the public and themselves.
A case was said of a woman in Kubwa , one of the satellite towns in Abuja who bought some fruits from Zuba market (near Kubwa) in the morning and by evening time when she was getting ready to take those fruits to her selling point, the green-looking banana and plantain in the morning had turned pure yellow, appetizing to the eyes as ripened fruit. It was discovered that she applied carbide on those fruits immediately she came back from the market. When she was challenged according to the eye witness, she bluntly told her challenger: a�?Is it your business?a��
Perhaps, this is why all kinds of illnesses hitherto uncommon in our environment have hit the citizens both young and old. These days, young children suffer sickness that had been thought to be for the elderly like high blood pressure, liver, kidney, heart and other diseases. It may be part of the effect of fruits ripen with carbide.
We in The AUTHORITY are of the view that issuing a statement by NAFDAC should not be the end of it. Many of those who engage in such practice may not have been aware of the danger of their action and its affect on them as much as others. In many cases, members of their household and themselves eat the same fruits they sell to the public. Some may be aware but the quest for easy and urgent money and profit may be the driving factor behind their activities.
We urge NAFDAC to liaise with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to enlighten the general public on this danger, not by mere statements to the media. They should launch serious campaign against this nefarious act that has endangered human health for a long time now. The campaign must be taken to Churches, Mosques, markets, schools and other public places so that many Nigerians can be saved from this danger of eating fruits ripen by calcium carbide. Time to act is now.