NAFDAC fights drug hawking, unhealthy fruit ripening

Tochukwu Ifejika, Awka

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), said the consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide may cause cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure.

In her address, the Director-General of the agency, Mojisola Adeyeye said during the South-East Zone Media Sensitization Workshop on Danger of Drug Hawking And Ripening of Fruits With Calcium Carbide held in Awka, the Anambra State capital.

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Calcium carbide generally contained impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, and others that pose several serious health hazards.

She also noted that 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.

She said although fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits, consumptions of fruits ripened with calcium carbide would be dangerous to one’s health.

“Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, the inside remains 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 DG noted that the assisted 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 comparatively shorter shelf life.”

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.

She said these chemicals were hazardous to pregnant women and children and might lead to headaches, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids, sleepiness, seizure, and others.

The DG said the agency had commissioned a scientific study on the best approach towards mitigating the health hazards posed by ripening of fruits with carbides.

The NADAC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakaer Jimoh, who in emotional speech, said he could remember the activities of the late Akunyili with nostalgia, calling for a minute silence for the NAFDAC fallen Amazon.

The DG’s address was delivered by the Director (Chemical) Evaluation & Research, Dr Leonard Omokparariola.

The programme was organised for the Associates of Nigeria Health Journalism.

Omokparariola also made a presentation on the Danger of Artificial Ripening fruits with calcium carbide wherein he educated the participants on natural methods of ripening fruits.

Representatives of the Anambra State Government, Federal government MDAs and some security outfits attended the programme.

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