The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide causes cancer, heart, kidney diseases and liver failure.
Director General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye stated this in Abuja during the flag off of the organization’s media sensitization workshop on dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide.
She said there have been clarion calls by well-meaning Nigerians on the need to take stringent regulatory actions to stem the dangerous tide of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide.
She said, “Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.
“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.”
She said it may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth.
While saying that higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema), she said acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain, and further induces prolonged hypoxia.
Prof. Adeyeye said the impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral oedema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure etc.
She said, ” Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, the inside remain unripe. 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 NAFDAC boss said most of the drugs sold by the illiterate and semi-literate drug hawkers are counterfeit, substandard or expired, and therefore do not meet the quality, safety and efficacy requirement of regulated medicines.
“Prescription drugs are also sold by the itinerant Drug Hawkers who also hold consultation, recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible “patients”, she said.